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Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of hard working students and their families. Ensuring that all Americans have access to high quality education is one of my top priorities. I have worked to provide students with opportunities for higher education by fighting to strengthen financial aid, increase the maximum amount for Pell Grants, and lower student loan repayment interest rates.
At a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, we must do all we can to keep post-secondary education affordable. Accordingly, I urge my fellow Representatives to take action to prevent student loan interest rates from rising this summer. If we do nothing, the interest rate on need-based student loans will double this July and will increase student loan repayment costs by over $1,000 for more than seven million students.
While my Republican colleagues have reversed their opinion on this issue and now claim to support our Nation's students--despite their continued support for the Ryan Budget, which slashes funding for education by 45 percent--they have put forward a misguided and radical bill that hurts low-income and middle-income families. Instead of ending tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, the Tea Party Republicans have proposed slashing billions of dollars in funding from vital health care programs for women and children, including childhood immunizations and cancer screening programs.
The Republicans want you to believe that we must choose between supporting our students and providing vital health services to women and children. However, this is clearly not the case. My fellow Democrats and I have been fighting to expand health care coverage and promote affordable education for years. Since 2007, Democrats have lowered the cost of education by cutting the student loan interest rate in half, saving billions of dollars for millions of students while returning billions of dollars in bank subsidies to students in the form of higher Pell Grants, income-based repayment programs, and loan forgiveness for students entering public service.
Unlike my Republican colleagues, I remain committed to creating jobs, expanding health care coverage, and promoting affordable, high quality education for all Americans. I urge my colleagues to do the same by voicing their opposition to the Republicans' damaging student loan proposal.
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