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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, we are in a rather ridiculous staring contest, waiting for our Democratic friends to offer a proposal that can actually pass when we already have one right in front of us. We have wasted actually 2 weeks on this student loan issue for no good reason. Neither I nor the ranking member has heard a word from the Democrats on how they propose to resolve the issue and actually prevent the interest rate from rising.
As we learned earlier this week, the President doesn't seem to even talk to his committee chairmen anymore. All of this suggests that the White House doesn't want to solve the problem; that it would rather allow these rates to double in a few weeks so he can run around all summer pointing the finger at those Republicans in the Senate.
I would still like to believe that is not the case. We had a chance to talk to the President about this and other issues last week down at the White House. I am convinced he would like to get a solution. Yet the fact is, all he would have to do is simply pick up the phone and tell the Democratic leadership that we would like to get this done, and I am pretty confident we could work it out. Unfortunately, we cannot just wait around hoping the President is going to pick up the phone. College students cannot wait either. They want us to resolve the issue now, and I know we can.
To move the ball forward, I would say to my colleague, the majority leader, if he agrees with me--Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi just did a good job with coming up with a bipartisan solution to the FDA bill. I am confident they could do the same thing on the student loan issue. They are the chairman and the ranking member of the committee that oversees student loan legislation. I have a lot of confidence in their ability to do it.
I am going to proffer a consent agreement that I think would allow us to go forward. My colleague from Tennessee will take the balance of our time after I have concluded.
I ask unanimous consent that following the conclusion of the two scheduled votes on the student loan bill, which we are about to have, the next order of business be a Harkin-Enzi bill dealing with the issue of the current student loan rate; provided further that no motion to proceed to other items be in order unless agreed to by both leaders.
The purpose of this consent agreement I have just proffered is to allow Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi to negotiate on this important issue, the increase in the student loan rates, and to keep the Senate focused on how to resolve this issue in a timely way before the rate goes up. The bill they would negotiate would be the next order of business, but it would also provide that both leaders could agree to allow the Senate to work on other measures if necessary as those student loan discussions continue.
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