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Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I think what we are witnessing today are people who have differences in philosophies and want to solve problems with different approaches.

I believe the issue before us at noon is a vote on doing no harm. There is not an agreement on both sides of the aisle as to whether we keep the student interest rates as low as possible for an ongoing basis or whether we tie it to market rates going up so that they go up over time. There is not agreement on that. I hope we have an agreement to do no harm.

The vote at noon is, let's keep it at 3.4 percent, where it has been, which is, by the way, the market rate. Right now you can go out and get a car--and I encourage people to purchase a new American-made automobile--with a 4-percent interest rate. You can get a mortgage for about 4 percent.

Doubling the rates makes no sense, and putting in place something that students are asking us not to do, which starts where we are and goes up over time, does not make sense either. So let's do no harm. Let's vote yes to give us a year.

We have people who care about this issue. We can sit down and spend that time working under Chairman Harkin, who is committed to addressing this in a comprehensive way. He is interested in addressing not just the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans but on all of the issues. There is a range of issues, not the least of which is the $1 trillion that students and families are carrying in this country, which is more than the credit card debt that we have.

Let's start with do no harm. If we do that, then 7 million students are not going to be hit with the interest rate hike that is going to be in place. If we do that, we are going to be saying to students: We are not going to see the government making billions of dollars in profits on the backs of students because the loan rates have gone up.

So I would encourage everyone--people of different philosophies--to vote yes to give us the time to work out what is clearly a broad comprehensive issue to make sure young people and people going back to college have the opportunity to dream big dreams, to have the same opportunities many of us have had.

I went to school on student loans. I went to school on a tuition-and-fees scholarship because of my own family situation growing up. The reality is we have the opportunity to do no harm, and then work together on something comprehensive that does not down the road see students paying 7, 8, 9 or, in the case of what the House did, top out rates at 10.5 percent. I reject that. Colleagues on this side of the aisle reject that.

Let's vote yes and do no harm and then get to work in a bipartisan way on the larger problem and solve it.

I yield the floor.


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