Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013by Representative Virginia Foxx
Posted on 2013-07-31
FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding time.
I rise in support of the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, renamed as the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act by the Senate. It's about time that bipartisanship on this issue won the day in Washington.
Earlier this year, my colleagues and I warmly welcomed the President's ideas to settle how student loan interest rates are calculated. Referencing his plan and his premise that student loan interest rates should be permanently free of politics and set using market interest rates, we introduced, and a bipartisan House majority passed, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act in May, well before rates were scheduled to double on July 1.
Our friends in the Senate were on a much different schedule. Rather than immediately building on the striking similarities between President Obama's initial proposal and the House Republican solution, Senate Democrats chose infighting over completing this important work.
July 1 came and went without any agreement from the Senate. Rates doubled.
But advocates of common sense and bipartisanship made a better case. Last week, Senate Democrats finally chose to support a permanent, market-based solution much like what the President had originally requested and practically identical to our Smarter Solutions for Students Act.
Campaign promises and political posturing should not play a role in the calculation of student loan interest rates. As we've seen, Washington's involvement in the rate-setting equation is a recipe for uncertainty and confusion. Borrowers deserve better.
The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act will apply predictable, market-based interest rates to all Federal Stafford and PLUS loans, ensuring that student and parent borrowers will be able to capitalize with certainty on low rates while being shielded from high rates by specified caps.
From personal experience, I know that paying for college is hard work. It's getting harder as tuition and fees increase, and the vast majority of American households are feeling that pressure.
The need for solutions to help ease the challenge of college affordability is especially acute in today's jobless economy. Many recent graduates took out loans with the expectation that they would be able to find a job to pay off their debt. Now, many find themselves among the 53 percent of their peers struggling with un-or underemployment.
Like our colleagues across the aisle, we want every student to have the necessary, honest information they need to make an informed decision about the financial obligations they voluntarily assume, and we want taxpayer subsidies for higher education to be well-spent, not wasted.
Now, with interest rates settled permanently for students and taxpayers, the Higher Education Subcommittee I chair will continue to look for and promote solutions to help bring clarity to college costs for all students and families considering the investment.
Students, families, and taxpayers deserve a long-term student loan solution, not more can-kicking from Washington. The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, like the House-passed Smarter Solutions for Students Act, puts an end to temporary fixes and campaign promises that have failed to strengthen our Nation's student loan system. This legislation offers students simplicity and predictability as they prepare to pay for college.
The American people deserve the clarity, certainty, and protection guaranteed by this legislation. I urge a ``yes'' vote.
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
I would not want the Members of this House to believe that somehow this bill that we're going to vote on in a few minutes is the same as the Republican bill. This bill saves $25 billion for those students over the next 5 years. The Republican bill that was voted on in this House costs those students a billion dollars. So there's a big difference. As I say, it was well worth the wait.
So let's understand very clearly. The Members of this House are getting a better deal with this legislation if they vote ``yes'' on this bill, both sides of the aisle.
I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Courtney).