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Democratic Members Of Congress Urge 'No' Vote On Bill That Would Cut Student Loans

Deborah Wang
01/24/2006

Democratic members of the State’s congressional delegation are raising the alarm over a bill they say would restrict access to student loans. The cuts are part of the so-called 'Deficit Reduction Act' that goes before the U.S. House next month. KUOW’s Deborah Wang reports.

THE BILL IS MEANT TO PLUG THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT BY MAKING MORE THAN 30 BILLION DOLLARS IN CUTS IN A VARIETY OF FEDERAL ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS, LIKE MEDICAID AND FOOD STAMPS. THE BIGGEST CUTS, ALMOST ONE THIRD, WOULD COME FROM STUDENT AID PROGRAMS. SUPPORTERS SAY THE BILL ACTUALLY IS MEANT TO EXPAND ACCESS TO STUDENT LOANS, BY AMONG OTHER THINGS, CUTTING DOWN ON WASTE AND FRAUD IN THE SYSTEM. JILL STRAIT IS A SPOKESPERSON FOR REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN CATHY MCMORRIS, WHO REPRESENTS EASTERN WASHINGTON.

STRAIT: “Well, it’s important that we show some fiscal responsibility and that we make some reforms to ensure that the people who are most vulnerable in our society are the ones who are actually getting help.”

BUT OPPONENTS, LIKE SENATOR MARIA CANTWELL, A DEMOCRAT, HAVE AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT VIEW. THEY SAY THE PLAN WOULD DRAMATICALLY INCREASE THE COST OF BORROWING FOR STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES. CANTWELL SAYS THE AVERAGE LOAN RECIPIENT, WHO BORROWS $6000 A YEAR, WOULD HAVE TO PAY AN ADDITIONAL $1400 IN INTEREST.

CANTWELL: “We should do better in this government than to balance our budget on the backs of students at a time when our economy needs and educated well skilled well talented workforce to take over.”

CANTWELL WAS ONE OF FOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE BILL IN SEATTLE MONDAY. THE GROUP, ALL DEMOCRATS, URGED STUDENTS TO CONTACT THE STATE’S THREE REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO URGE THEM TO VOTE AGAINST THE BILL. SENATOR PATTY MURRAY SAYS THERE IS A REAL CHANCE THAT SOME REPUBLICANS MIGHT CHANGE THEIR VOTES.

MURRAY: “If they hear from students and the students start inundating their phones saying not on my back we have a much better chance of stopping this and going back to square one and doing it right so students aren’t bearing the burden of this cut.”

THE BILL ORIGINALLY PASSED THE HOUSE BY A 2 VOTE MARGIN, ALONG PARTY LINES. A FINAL VOTE IN THE HOUSE IS EXPECTED ON FEBRUARY 1ST. DEBORAH WANG, KUOW NEWS.

© Copyright 2006, KUOW
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