Education secretary says student loan fix is up to Congress

Meagan Clark Contributor
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WASHINGTON — Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters Tuesday afternoon that it is up to Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling July 1.

“It’s up to Congress to get this done,” Duncan told reporters repeatedly at a press briefing at the White House Tuesday. He also said he anticipates “by the end of the month having a good resolution.”

Last October, Arne made headlines when he told CNN, “We’re just going to do this by ourselves. We can’t wait for Congress, we’re just going to act.”

Arne repeated this message on MSNBC. “What we’re trying to do is help on the back end — reduce those monthly payments on those loans, make sure folks have a better opportunity to be successful there,” Duncan said in October. “And we can do this by ourselves. We don’t have to wait for Congress. We can’t wait for Congress.”

Without bipartisan Congressional support on how to subsidize Stafford loans, the interest rate will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, affecting about 7 million Americans.

Republicans have offered four proposals in a letter to the White House, including cutting funds for preventative care provided under President Barack Obama’s health care reform, but as of Tuesday afternoon had not received a response, ABC News reports.

“If it’s not a serious proposal, it’s not one when we’re going to take seriously, but if it’s a serious proposal, we’ll entertain it seriously,” Duncan responded.

When pressed on the particulars, Duncan repeated his optimism that the interest rate will not double, but refrained from explaining why he was hopeful.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to get into any specifics here. … I don’t know all the details,” Duncan said. “We’re going to sit down with [Sen. Mitch McConnell] and Speaker Boehner and everyone else who wants to get this done and get it done.”

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