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September 14, 2014

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Politics:

Bill to restore lower student loan rate is up for vote

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whispers to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in the House Speaker’s office before a meeting on the debt limit increase in Washington on Saturday, July 23, 2011.

At least one student loan bill will be voted on in Washington this week.

But it likely won't bring Congress any closer to a solution to lower loan rates that doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid queued up a bill to retroactively reinstate and extend the 3.4 percent loan rate — an approach Senate Democrats have long favored — in the Senate Monday night, setting up a vote for Wednesday.

But the proposal is opposed by most Republicans, making its chances of passage unlikely.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House are doubling down on student loan legislation they passed in June, which President Barack Obama has already promised to veto.

It is possible for Congress to apply a rate change for student loans taken out for the current academic year retroactively, provided the two houses can come to an agreement.

A bipartisan group of Senate Republicans and Democrats has been drafting a middle-of-the-road proposal.

But with leaders of both the Senate and the House insisting on their preferred proposals instead of a compromise, solutions are giving way to the customary tit-for-tat between the parties, with each accusing the other of being too stubbornly partisan for the country's good.

"When you have a bipartisan group in the Senate who had a solution ... and yet were shot down by the majority leader, you begin to wonder whether they are looking for a solution," House Speaker John Boehner said Monday.

"The speaker should work with his Democratic colleagues instead of against them," Reid said Monday. "The House legislation is worse for students than doing nothing at all."

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