Combined Highways-Student Loan Bill Passed
Compromise might not be a dirty word on Capitol Hill after all. After months of grandstanding and apparent deadlock, it appears that Congress has found a way forward on two important issues by combining them into one package that gives both parties key pieces while requiring compromise on others. The combined Highways-Student Loan bill will include a two-year $100 billion spending plan for highway and mass transit construction and repairs, and $6 billion to prevent rates on new student loans from doubling.
Hammering out the compromise wasn’t easy. Both parties were required to give and take on key issues important to their political bases, no small feat with elections just months away. Republicans yielded on demands for a go-ahead with the controversial Keystone XL pipeline while Democrats relented on some of their environmental protection demands. If the bill failed to pass, interest rates for new Stafford loans would double to 6.8 percent on July 1st. The agreement will extend the current rate of 3.4 percent for an additional 12 months, saving an estimated 7.4 million students an average of $1,000 in interest over the life of the loan. The compromise bill passed the Senate 74-19 and the House 373-52 and was signed into law by the President.