(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement after voting against the Manchin-Burr student loan bill, which would increase the debt burden on college students. The bill, which the Senate ultimately passed by a vote of 81-18, offers low interest rates in the short term, but sets a cap on subsidized Stafford student loan rates at 8.25-percent – a significant increase over the 3.4-percent rate that was in effect less than one month ago – that would result in students taking on greater debt in future years.
“Today, the Senate passed a bill that will exacerbate the student loan debt crisis and further hamper Americans’ ability to buy basic goods that fuel economic growth. The bill provides variable low teaser rates now in exchange for unconscionably high rates later – short-term relief at the expense of long-term pain.
“I supported and co-sponsored three amendments to this bill that would have made the measure more favorable to student borrowers, including one amendment, which I helped to lead, that would have capped interest rates at 6.8 percent. Unfortunately, these amendments were not approved, and the Senate passed a bill that mortgages young people’s future by adding to the country’s $1 trillion in student loan debt and the federal government’s profit off students.
“I am extremely disappointed that young people are getting a raw deal. Ultimately, this bill makes college unaffordable for many younger brothers and sisters of high schoolers entering college this fall – deferring, for them, the American Dream. I will continue to fight for a return to more reasonable rates for student borrowers and measures to reduce the financially crushing burden of student debt already owed.”
Earlier this month, Blumenthal joined a majority of his Senate colleagues in supporting legislation offered by Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that would have returned interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans to 3.4 percent for one year, buying time for the Senate to craft a long-term solution to the student loan debt crisis. Because of Senate rules that require 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles, the legislation was never given a straight up-or-down vote.