Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a former University of California Regent and California State University Trustee and former Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today voted for a good bipartisan compromise that secures vital transportation funding while preserving low-interest Stafford Loans. If Congress had not acted, 7.4 million college students would have seen their Stafford Loan rate double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1st.
"This compromise was essential. If we didn't act, 7.4 million students would have effectively seen a $1,000 tax increase every year they took out Stafford Loans," said Congressman Garamendi. "As someone who voted against every tuition increase as a UC Regent and CSU Trustee, college affordability has always been a top priority for me. I'm glad this time Congress was able to put partisanship aside to help our students."
Failure to act would have added $6.3 billion to students' debt burden in one year alone. Graduates in 2010 with student loan debt left school owing an average of $25,000. Nearly one million students helped by the Stafford Loan are Latino, 1.5 million are African American, and more than 4.5 million are women.
Transportation and Buy America Policies
"This bill also makes critical investments in transportation. Because of this legislation, two million Americans will be hard at work building roads and improving transit systems, improving commutes and ensuring the reliable flow of goods from farms and manufacturers to consumers," Garamendi continued. "But it's not a perfect bill. I don't understand why we're making sizable reductions in funding for sidewalks and bicycle paths, and I will continue advocating for these needed investments moving forward."
"While there is much to like in this bill, once again Republicans in Congress blocked strong Buy America requirements from being included," added Garamendi, Congress's leading Make It In America advocate. "It boggles my mind that some in Congress are so eager to offshore American jobs at the expense of Americans desperate for a paycheck."
Flood Insurance Reform
The compromise agreement also reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program for five years and makes important reforms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) premium rate structure to place the program on a stronger financial footing.
"The National Flood Insurance Program is continued under this compromise, which is very important for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and communities throughout Northern California," Garamendi continued.
Garamendi is the author of the Agricultural Floodplain Management Act (H.R. 6034), bipartisan legislation that calls for a study to evaluate the impact of the NFIP's building restrictions on small agriculture communities.
Continues highway and transit programs at current levels ($105 billion) for 27 months through the end of fiscal year 2014;
Preserves mass transit funding at current levels; and
Increases investments for federal credit assistance under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program from $122 million under current law to $750 million in FY 2013 and $1 billion in FY 2014. The TIFIA program provides credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit to finance transportation projects, and can be used by states and local governments to get even more bang for their buck, leveraging the initial funds to secure access to capital markets, flexible repayment terms, and lower interest rates. Each dollar of federal funds can provide up to $10 in credit assistance and leverage $30 in transportation infrastructure investment.
Congressman Garamendi is the author of two Make It In America bills that would Congressman Garamendi is sponsoring the following two bills:
The Airports, Highways, Trains and Transit: Make it in America Act (H.R. 613) would create American jobs by setting stronger standards for goods and equipment purchased with federal dollars for airports, highways, high-speed rail, trains and transit; and
The Manufacture Renewable Energy Systems: Make it in America Act (H.R. 487) would create American jobs by ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent on American-made renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels.