Today, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) demanded an up-or-down vote on key legislation that would stop the doubling of the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans on July 1. H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act, would freeze the interest rate on these loans at 3.4% for the next two years -- giving Congress time to enact comprehensive student loan reform as part of a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Langevin joined his Democratic colleagues in signing a discharge petition, led by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), to bring up the bill for a vote.
"Congress must act quickly to prevent the doubling of rates on July 1," said Congressman Langevin. "This Democratic bill would allow college students to benefit from historically low interest rates by freezing the current 3.4% rate for the next two years. With a majority of new jobs in the next decade requiring a college degree, it is an economic necessity that a higher education remains an opportunity for every student."
Democrats are launching the discharge petition to force action on this broadly supported legislation because the Republican Leadership has refused to move forward on the bill. The Student Loan Relief Act was introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney on April 17, 2013, and has over 150 cosponsors, but Republicans have failed to schedule a hearing or a mark-up on the bill. A discharge petition requires the House to consider the legislation once a majority of Members of Congress (218) have signed it.
On May 23, House Republicans passed a student loan bill that was even worse for students and families than allowing interest rates to double. According to the Congressional Research Service, under the Republican bill, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if interest rates doubled. Senate Democrats have said they will not take up this damaging House bill.