Weekly Republican Address: Chairman John Kline Urges President Obama to Lead on Student Loans

WASHINGTON, DC – “Our students deserve better,” House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) says in the Weekly Republican Address, in which he urges President Obama to persuade Senate Democrats to pass a plan that stops student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1st and provides long-term stability.  To date, the Republican-led House is the only chamber of Congress that has acted to solve this problem for students and their families.    

NOTE: The Weekly Republican Address is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, June 22, 2013.  The audio is accessible now, and video of the address will be available to watch and download once the embargo is lifted. 

“Hello, I'm John Kline, chairman of the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

“As you may know, millions of student-loan borrowers could soon see their interest rates double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.  This rate hike, which will take effect on July 1st if nothing is done, would apply to new subsidized Stafford loans issued to undergraduates.  With time running out, the House of Representatives is the only chamber of Congress that has acted to solve this problem.

“Our students deserve better.  We’re in this predicament because politicians put themselves in charge of setting interest rates, guaranteeing exactly this type of down-to-the-wire uncertainty for students and their families.  What we need is a long-term solution that gets Washington out of the business of setting rates altogether.

“Fortunately, President Obama agrees, and in his budget, he offered a plan for long-term reform by tying interest rates to the market.  Heartened by that proposal, Republicans put together a similar measure – the Smarter Solutions for Students Act – and the House passed it last month, weeks before the deadline.

“But Senate Democrats have actively blocked the president’s plan and refuse to consider ours.  In fact, they have yet to pass a solution of any kind.  If I didn’t know any better, I would say they are content to let rates double.

“Still, Republicans have pressed ahead in good faith, and what we need to move forward now is more leadership from President Obama.  This week, Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to the president asking him to step in.  I myself have reached out to my Senate colleagues, and am urging members of the Obama administration to take action.  Because of our efforts, there are finally signs of progress toward a bipartisan plan for a long-term, market-based solution, but we need to finish the job – and do so soon.

“This 11th-hour scrambling is a perfect demonstration of why we need to take the politics out of student loans once and for all.  We should now seize the opportunity before us. I urge President Obama to get engaged so we can stop this rate hike and deliver the kind of long-term solution our students and their families deserve.

“Thank you for listening.”