US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin: Time to Put Politics Aside to Protect Students

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

WASHINGTON—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today expressed his disappointment at the failure of a Senate cloture vote on a measure that will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling in July, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.  Harkin helped develop and is one of the lead cosponsors of the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act, a one-year freeze of the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans.  This interest rate extension is fully paid for by eliminating a tax loophole that currently allows some wealthy shareholder-employees of so-called “S corporations” to avoid paying their fair share of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. 

“I am very disappointed that our Republican colleagues have once again put politics ahead of students, trotting out obstructionist tactics to keep us from solving this urgent problem.  If we do not act soon, American students and their families will be on the hook for an average of an extra thousand dollars in interest payments for each loan – a  burden that will weigh heavily in this economy. A college education used to be a ticket into the middle class in this country, but it is quickly becoming a luxury out of reach of millions of middle class families.  I hope that our Republican colleagues will now put politics aside, and work with us to help American students succeed.”

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