Today, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) reacted to Senate Democrats' vote to defeat their bill, S. 1003, the Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act--a permanent solution that would lower and fix interest rates for 100 percent of newly issued student-loans.
Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said: "Our bill takes advantage of today's low rates and lowers rates on all new student loans this year to below 5 percent--it's fair to students, it's fair to taxpayers, it's a permanent solution and it's the same idea that the House has already passed and the same idea that the president has recommended. I wish all of our serious issues opened with proposals from the president and the House of Representatives and Senate Republicans that were as close together as they are on this issue. We should sit down together and spend the next three weeks saying: "We all have the same idea, we have a serious issue here, it affects millions of students so let's work together and show the country we can do this.'
Coburn said: "Today's vote put politics ahead of principle. The Senate could have enacted a permanent solution for students and their families, but instead played short-term politics. I will continue to work towards reform that ties interest rates to market forces and takes the process out of the hands of a Congress that routinely holds these rates hostage."
Burr said: "I'm left scratching my head over the Senate's votes today. Along with my colleagues, I put forward a permanent solution for 100% of student loans that lowers rates, simplifies and streamlines the process, and saves federal taxpayers billions of dollars. After today's votes and Harry Reid stating publicly this week that there was "no reason to work out a compromise," it is clear they would rather have a made-for-television political fight on this issue rather than a resolution. It raises questions about whether Reid's priorities lie with starting temporary political fires or permanently addressing this issue for American students and their families. I, on the other hand, stand willing to work with my colleagues for what should be a no-brainer for students, parents, and taxpayers."
Isakson said: "I am very disappointed by the outcome of today's vote. Our proposal is fair, equitable and treats everyone alike by lowering interest rates on 100 percent of student federal loans at a fixed rate. It's the right way to address the student loan program, and it's unfortunate that Senate Democrats blocked a bill that takes an approach very similar to the president's student loan proposal. It is critically important that we reach an agreement quickly so that students will have access to affordable loans come July 1. It is irresponsible for anyone to play politics on this important issue."
The "Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act" requires that, for each academic year, all newly-issued Stafford, Graduate PLUS, and Parent PLUS loans be set to the U.S. Treasury 10-year borrowing rate plus 3 percentage points. It would lower the interest rate for this coming school year for all newly issued federal student loans to a fixed rate of 4.75 percent, based on the May 15 auction rate of 1.75 percent.