Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) has taken action to force an up-or-down vote on key legislation that would stop the doubling of the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans on July 1. The bill 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. Huffman joined his colleagues in signing a discharge petition, led by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), to bring up H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013.
"At a time when we are being told that a college education is more important than ever, we must ensure higher education is affordable and accessible for all American students," Congressman Huffman said. "Congress must act quickly to prevent the doubling of rates on July 1 so that students and families don't get saddled with billions in additional debt."
Democrats are launching this discharge petition to force action on H.R. 1595 because Republican Leadership has refused to move forward on the bill. The Student Loan Relief Act was introduced on April 17, 2013, and has over 150 cosponsors, including Congressman Huffman. Should a majority of Members of Congress (218) sign the discharge petition; the House will be required to consider the legislation on the floor.
Congressman Huffman previously voted against H.R. 1911, a Republican bill that passed the House which would make college more expensive for students and middle class families, forcing them into loans with skyrocketing interest rates. H.R. 1911 is even worse for students and families than allowing interest rates to double from 3.4% to 6.8%, as they are set to do on July 1 if no action is taken by Congress.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, H.R. 1911 would force some students to pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if interest rates were allowed to double. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, the legislation approved by the House would charge students and families an additional $3.7 billion over the next decade in interest payments relative to current law.
Huffman is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1527, legislation to increase the tax deduction for student loan interest, and H.R. 1738, legislation to permanently extend the tax credit that covers expenses such as tuition, fees, and course materials.