News Column

DSCC: On Student Loans, 'Guardian of Gridlock' Mitch McConnell Stands With Special Interests & Against Kentucky College Students

June 12, 2014



WASHINGTON, June 12 -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued the following news release:

Today the self proclaimed "Guardian of Gridlock" Mitch McConnell continued to support Washington dysfunction, voting against helping Kentucky college graduates with the crushing weight of student loan debt, reminding Kentuckians yet again that he sides with Washington special interests and against Kentucky's college students and middle class families.

McConnell's vote against making college more affordable for working families by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and using the savings to allow anyone with pre-existing student loans to refinance their loans at lower rates hurts his state. In Kentucky alone, 359,000 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/student_debt_report_final.pdf) borrowers could benefit from refinancing their student loans at a lower rates.

Mitch McConnell has a long record of siding with special interests ahead of Kentucky. McConnell has voted again and again against a plan to keep student loan interest rates from doubling in order to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionares, called extending low interest student loans a "phony manufactured" issue, and cast the deciding vote on a budget with the largest student loan cuts in history.

"Mitch McConnell is the self-proclaimed guardian of gridlock and we saw exactly why today. His insistence on leading Washington's partisan political obstruction comes with a high price tag for Kentucky college students and families who are struggling to pay off student loan debt," said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Instead of fighting to make college more affordable, Mitch McConnell voted to allow millionaires and billionaires to enjoy their tax breaks. Kentucky students and families deserve leaders who will fight for them in Washington, not reckless partisans like Mitch McConnell who value gridlock and obstruction over what's best for his state."

BACKGROUND:

IN 2009, MCCONNELL SUPPORTED ENDING FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS, SAYING THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD "GET OUT OF THE STUDENT LOAN BUSINESS"

McConnell Said Government "Needed To Get Out Of The Student Loan Business." In July 2009, Sen. McConnell said: "Well, in the meantime, we need to, you know, get out of the car business, get out of the banking business, get out of the insurance business, get out of the student loan business, and don't get in nationalizing health care." [Fox News On the Record, 7/8/09]

IN 2012, MCCONNELL BLOCKED, AND THEN VOTED AGAINST LEGISLATION TO PREVENT STUDENT LOAN RATES FROM DOUBLING

McConnell Voted To Allow Student Loan Rates To Double. In May 2012, McConnell voted against a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to the bill that would extend, for one year, a 3.4 interest rate on certain federally-backed student loans. It would be offset by eliminating a tax preference for S corporations, which are companies that pass their income, losses, deductions and credits through to shareholders for federal tax purposes. The motion was rejected by a vote of 52-45. [Vote 89, 5/8/12 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00089); New York Times, 5/8/12 (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/us/politics/senate-republicans-block-bill-on-student-loan-rates.html?_r=0)]

* New York Times Headline: "Republicans In Senate Block Bill On Student Loan Rates.""Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward." [New York Times, 5/8/12 (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/us/politics/senate-republicans-block-bill-on-student-loan-rates.html?_r=0)]

* May 2012: McConnell Called Extending Low Student Loan Rates "Phony" And "Manufactured." In May 2012, the Associated Press reported that "Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Tuesday to preserve low interest rates for millions of college students' loans The 52-45 vote to begin debating the legislation fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed and stalled work Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said the battle is a phony one manufactured by Democrats to woo votes from students. Both parties say they want to extend low interest rates. 'The Senate has ceased to be a place where problems are resolved. It's become instead a place where Democrats produce campaign material,' McConnell said." [Associated Press, 5/8/12]

Again, McConnell Voted To Allow Student Loan Rates To Double. In May 2012, McConnell voted against passage of the bill that would extend, for one year, a 3.4 percent interest rate on certain federally subsidized, undergraduate student loans. It would be offset by eliminating a tax preference for S corporations, which are companies that pass their income, losses, deductions and credits through to shareholders for federal tax purposes. The measure was rejected by a vote of 51-43 (D 49-1; R 0-42; I 2-0). [Vote 113, 5/24/12 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00113)]

IN JULY 2013, MCCONNELL TWICE BLOCKED LEGISLATION TO EXTEND LOW INTEREST RATES ON STUDENT LOANS

McConnell Voted Against Extending 3.4 Percent Student Loan Interest Rate For One Year. In July 2013, McConnell voted against a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to the bill that would extend a 3.4 percent fixed interest rate on federal subsidized undergraduate student loans for one year. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the measure "It is the only plan on the table that will not cost students extra - at least, until the year is up and Congress returns to debating what to do with interest rates." [Vote 171, 7/10/13 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00171); Christian Science Monitor, 7/10/13]

McConnell Voted Against Ending Filibuster On Plan To Extend Student Loan Interest Rates For Two Years And Keep Them From Doubling By Closing Tax Loopholes Including Those For Oil Companies. In June 2013, McConnell voted against a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to a bill that would extend the 3.4 percent fixed interest rate on federal subsidized undergraduate student loans for two years. The cost of the extension would be offset by reducing certain tax exemptions on retirement and corporate accounts, and applying an excise tax to oil from tar sands. [Vote 143, 6/6/13 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00143)]

* USA Today Headline: "Senate Defeats Bills To Keep Student Loan Rates Low."[USAToday, 6/6/13 (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/06/student-loans-senate-defeated/2398059/)]

MCCONNELL VOTED FOR FY 2006 BUDGET BILL THAT INCLUDED THE LARGEST STUDENT LOAN CUTS IN HISTORY

McConnell Cast Deciding Vote for Final 2006 Budget Reconciliation With Largest Student Loan Cuts in History. McConnell voted for the final version of the 2006 budget reconciliation bill, which passed 50-50 with the Vice President casting the tie-breaking vote. The package cut $12.7 million from college loans, the largest cuts to the student loan program in its history. [Vote 363, 12/21/05 (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00363); AP, 12/19/05 (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-12-19-loan-cuts_x.htm);Washington Post, 12/19/05 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/18/AR2005121801093.html)]

ADDING AN ESTIMATED $8 BILLION IN COST TO STUDENT BORROWERS

Cuts Agreed To By McConnell Would Add $8 Billion In Cost To Student Borrowers And Their Families. In January 2006, the Charleston Gazette reported that a budget reconciliation bill supported by McConnell would "add $8 billion in cost to student borrowers and their families." [Editorial, Charleston Gazette, 1/16/06]

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