Federal Relations

House Tries to Force Vote on Student Loans

House Democrats are attempting to force a floor vote on a two-year extension of the current interest rate for federally subsidized student loans and avert a scheduled doubling of the rate on July 1, 2013.

They hope to file a discharge petition if they get the support of a majority of members. This would force a vote on a HR 1595 that would freeze the current 3.4 percent interest rate on the subsidized portion of Stafford loans for two years while Congress negotiates a permanent solution. It’s similar to a Senate bill (S 953) that last week fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed for an up-or-down floor vote in that chamber.

House Republicans have declined to bring HR 1595 up for consideration and assert that they already passed their own plan (HR 1911) that would shift the fixed rate to one tied to the 10-year Treasury bill plus 2.5 percent. The White House has threatened a veto of that measure, saying it could end up costing borrowers more and allow the rate to fluctuate for the life of the loan.

With just 16 days before the rate hike is set to begin, we are tracking the discharge petition to see how the WA state delegation members respond. As of yesterday, it had 150 signatures including those from Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-1st), Denny Heck (D-10th), Derek Kilmer (D-6th), and Jim McDermott (D-7th).