U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today released the following statements following her vote to approve legislation including a highway jobs bill, a freeze on federal student loan rates, and a crucial flood insurance program for Missouri's families:
Highway Jobs Bill:
"After this extension, tens of thousands of folks across Missouri can keep their jobs upgrading and maintaining the roads and bridges we depend on every day," McCaskill said. "I'm disappointed that the bill does not include approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, but this is an important and good bill that reflects hard-fought compromise."
Federal Student Loan Rates:
"Thank goodness the politicians standing in the way of this compromise finally agreed that Missouri's college students shouldn't pay drastically more for the chance at a better education and the job opportunities that come with that opportunity," McCaskill said. "For our kids and grandkids, these loans represent a doorway to a brighter economic future, and for many they're the only way to afford a college education-and Missourians rightfully expect me to fight to make that opportunity available to them."
Flood Insurance Program:
"Without this reauthorization, no one in a flood area could have bought, sold, or built a home-which in a state with so many lakes and rivers is something we couldn't allow to happen," McCaskill said. "That kind of limbo is bad for the economy and for Missouri families. I'm glad we got this done."
McCaskill has repeatedly called for passage of a highway bill, which will ensure the continued funding and maintenance of the country's infrastructure-federal highways, bridges and rail programs-at current levels for the next 27 months, without adding to the nation's debt. Key provisions make federal transportation programs more efficient and reduce average environmental and other project review times. The legislation's approval comes over the objections of U.S. House members who sought to drastically decrease resources for road and bridge projects and who had threatened to derail the bipartisan measure.
Missouri will be home to more than 160,000 student borrowers in the 2012-2013 school year, and a doubling of federal student loan interest rates to 6.8 percent would have increased interest payments made by Missouri students and families by more than $129 million in the next school year alone. McCaskill had previously voted on two separate occasions to prevent a similar rate increase.
McCaskill sponsored a bipartisan amendment and wrote a letter to Senate leadership in a successful fight to remove a "residual risk" provision from the flood insurance reauthorization. This provision would have required families and communities already protected by dams and levees to participate in the flood insurance program. McCaskill said that such a movie defied common sense and, with a bipartisan group of Senators, successfully fought to get the provision stripped from the final bill.