Mr. BACA. Madam Speaker, in these tough economic times, it's critical that Congress work to make quality higher education available to all Americans. We know that investing in education is an investment in our future, an investment in the strength of America.
By the year 2018, 63 percent of all American jobs will require some level of higher education. Sadly, if Congress does not act soon, the interest rate for student loans will double from 3.4 to 6.8, higher than home loans. This will cause thousands of dollars in new debt for more than 7.4 million American students.
Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress have refused to go forward with legislation that would prevent this crisis. And some Republican leaders have openly criticized students who graduate with college debt.
It's time that Congress worked together to help middle class families, not just the wealthiest few. We must pass legislation that strengthens the Pell program and prevents an increase in student loan rates.
Thank you, President Obama, for taking the lead in helping our future generations and leaders of tomorrow.