By Alexander Bolton - 06/26/12 06:55 PM EDT
Senate leaders say they have a deal on student loan legislation, pending approval by House Republicans, who have unexpectedly balked at Senate deals before.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday there is an agreement on student loans and now the question is what type of legislative vehicle to use to pass it through Congress.
“We basically have the student loan issue worked out. The next question is what do we put it on to make sure we can complete it,” Reid said.
Senate Republican Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said final approval of student loan legislation, which would prevent rates on federal Stafford loans from doubling to 6.8 percent, depends on House Republicans.
“Sen. Reid and I have an understanding that we think will be acceptable to the House. That may or may not be coupled with the highway proposal over in the House,” said McConnell.
House Republicans surprised Senate leaders in December when they objected to a short-term deal Reid and McConnell had negotiated to extend the payroll tax holiday. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had given Senate leaders the impression that House Republicans would accept it.
A senior Democratic aide said he was leery about calling the student loan bill a done deal until Tea Party Republicans in the House had weighed in.
Reid said negotiators are very close to a final deal on a multiyear transportation authorization bill and said there must be an agreement by Wednesday if it is to pass this week.
“I’m convinced when this is all over with, we could have a very, very good highway bill that would include transit and would include some things that we work with here in the Senate,” he said.
“In the last 24 hours a lot of progress have been made,” he added, noting his staff has been meeting with Boehner’s staff.