Senators have the opportunity to take the week of Memorial Day to travel to our home states to meet with constituents. I look forward to visiting Bainbridge, Kennesaw, Thomasville and Valdosta next week for a number of tours and events.
Student Loan Interest Rates
Unless Congress acts, interest rates on subsidized student college loans will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012. This increase would not affect students who currently have loans, but would affect an estimated 7 million students who are likely to take out loans after July 1.
Democratic Leader Harry introduced a bill, S.2343, which stops these student loan interest rates from doubling but pays for it by permanently raising taxes on job creating businesses and diverting money that would otherwise go to fund Social Security and Medicare. On May 8, 2012, the Senate voted on a motion to proceed to Senator Reid's legislation. I voted against the measure, which failed to get the 60 votes needed.
Senate and House Republicans have introduced an alternative bill that stops these student loan interest rates from doubling and pays for it by ending a controversial "slush fund" that was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."
On Thursday, the Senate voted on a Republican alternative introduced by Senator Alexander, R-Tenn., the Interest Rate Reduction Act, S.2366, which was offered as a substitute amendment to Sen. Reid's bill. The amendment failed by a vote of 34 to 62 -- it required 60 votes to pass.I am a co-sponsor of the Alexander proposal and I voted for it on Thursday. I also voted "No" on final passage of Senator Reid's legislation, S. 2343, which failed by a vote of 51 to 43 -- it required 60 votes to pass. The Senate must reach a deal before July to prevent student loan interest rates from spiking.
Global Health Conference
On Monday, I spoke at the World Affairs Council of Atlanta's Global Health Conference. As the senior Republican on the Subcommittee on African Affairs, I gave remarks drawing from my experiences on the continent including my trip in April. I have seen firsthand how important America's continued leadership is in improving the world's health. As I mentioned in my speech, global health is important to America's health; germs do not recognize political boundaries.
We must be a leader in finding cures and doing those things necessary to extend life and maintain prosperity. Water is a key component in that fight: without clean water, you will not have good health. Additionally, while America has been a generous benefactor to the world, we now face a time where we have growing needs and restricted resources. The investments we make, whether in global health or in water, are going to have to be measured based on cost but also based on the benefit to the American taxpayer. It's important that we be a leader to bring about the collaboration, the partnerships and the interrelationship of people and governments and countries so that we together work to find the cures for disease and to make sure there is available clean water.
What is so important about the focus of the summit is that if we can connect the capitalism in this country with the problems of the world and bring about solutions, we create customs and help people live longer lives, have better lives, whose standard of living goes up and their ability to consume goes up.
In Other News
I was delighted to speak with listeners in Athens, Ga., and Valdosta, Ga., this week on local radio programs there as well as with folks across the country as a guest on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program. We covered a vast array of topics and I was able to hear from and respond to viewers from across the country. We had an enlightening discussion and you can watch the program online. My interview begins at the 1:33:47 mark.
Next week, I hope that interested individuals in the area will be able to attend my town hall meeting in Bainbridge, Ga., at Bainbridge College. The event is open to the public and will be held at the Kirbo Center on campus at 2500 E. Shotwell Street from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. I will give a brief Washington update on current legislation and issues affecting our nation and then open the floor to hear your questions and concerns.
What's on Tap?
Next week, I will be traveling in Georgia. On Monday, we celebrate and remember our nation's service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I ask you to join me in saying a prayer for the families that have lost a loved one in service to our nation, and to tell a service member "thank you' for his or her many sacrifices on behalf of our nation.
When the Senate reconvenes on June 4, 2012, we are expected to resume consideration of the legislation known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 3220. We will also consider the nomination of Timothy S. Hillman to be a federal district judge in Massachusetts.