Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (June 24-28) in Washington.
HOUSE and SENATE
The House and Senate will be in recess this week.
The Senate passed S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, on Thursday by a vote of 68-32.
Congress was not able to reach a deal to keep subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling as scheduled on July 1 before adjourning for the July 4 recess. During a press conference Thursday, several Democratic Senators, including Senators Reed and Harkin, announced legislation, the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, to extend this 3.4% rate for one additional year. In addition, Senator Jack Reed stated that caps on interest rates are a necessary part of any longer term interest rate deal. At this press conference, Senator Harkin announced that the Senate would vote on this one year extension on July 10. Additionally, a bipartisan group of Senators (Alexander, R-TN, Manchin, D-WV, King, I-ME, Coburn, R-OK, Burr, R-NC, and Carper, D-DE) introduced the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which would tie interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note, and add 1.85% to subsidized and unsubsidized undergraduate Stafford loans, 3.4% for graduate Stafford loans, and 4.4% for PLUS loans. The bill does not include caps on the interest rates associated with these loans but would not modify the existing 8.25% cap on consolidation loans.
The National Center for Education Statistics released “The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012,” which gives results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend assessments in reading and mathematics. NCES reports that overall, nine- and thirteen-year olds are scoring better on math and reading than forty years ago.
It is possible that the Senate subcommittee markup on the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill will take place in early to mid-July, followed by action in the full committee a few days later.
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