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Mr. COURTNEY. Thank you, Mr. Polis, for yielding and for, again, bringing this issue back to the floor, which, as my chart indicates, we're now down to 10 days.
When this chart was first created, it was 110 days, and it coincided with the delivery of 130,000 petition signatures from college campuses all across America, pleading with Congress to listen to President Obama's challenge on January 25 right from that podium that we should block the increase from going through.
My legislation, which was introduced at midnight the same night, had 152 cosponsors to lock in the lower rate. For 3 months, nothing happened. A bill was rushed to the floor by the majority without any consultation with the other side. It took money out of a fund to pay for cervical cancer screening and diabetes screening, a hyperpartisan measure which the President indicated he would veto even before the vote was taken.
The good news is Mr. Boehner has already moved away from that proposal. He sent a letter with Senator McConnell to the Senate leadership offering new pay-fors and moving off the House bill. Again, that was rushed through with absolutely no consultation on any bipartisan basis.
There are 7 million college students who are waiting for an answer in the next 10 days to this issue. The rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Senator Reid has talked already about a proposal which is a pay-for that, again, there appears to be some willingness to move forward on. We should be focused on that issue right now, not this measure on the floor which is going nowhere. It's another bill which will never see the light of day in the Senate.
This issue, helping students pay for college at a time when student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, is the issue that America is watching and waiting. And editorially, from Florida all the way to the west coast, newspapers are demanding bipartisan compromise, not the kind of measure which was rammed through this House a month and a half ago.
The building blocks are there, but we have to focus on that, not the measure that's before us here today. And the Tierney bill is a perfect opportunity for us to do something which, again, has a balanced approach and which will protect students from the doubling of their student loan interest rates.
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