College Student Relief Act (H.R. 5)/Motion to recommit with instructions to apply the subsidized interest rate reductions only to graduates earning less than $65,000 annually and to active-duty military personnel
house Roll Call 31 Jan 17, 2007
This vote was on a procedural motion to a bill to cut the interest rate on subsidized college loans in half over the next five years. Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) made a motion to recommit the bill to the Education and Labor Committee with an amendment that would have applied the subsidized interest rate reductions only to graduates who earned less than $65,000 annually and to active-duty military personnel.
The motion also would have directed the federal government to use the remaining funds allocated in this bill for deficit reduction or for an increase in Pell grants, which go to the neediest students and do not need to be repaid.
A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's last chance to make substantive changes to a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure
The underlying bill was one of the "100 hours" agenda priorities for the new Democratic Congress, and aimed to fulfill one of the party's 2006 midterm campaign promises.
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) said she was "very pleased that our congressional leadership has made cutting interest rates on student loans one of its top priorities for the first 100 hours of this Congress."
According to Matsui, a recent study demonstrated that the legislation would save the average student borrower attending California state schools this year almost $2,500 over the life of the loan.
"For students beginning college in the year 2011, the legislation will save almost $5,000," Matsui said. "We will need to do more to make college affordable, but my constituents in Sacramento who are struggling to afford college will welcome this very important first step."
Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said the legislation would help 5.5 million undergraduate students attend college and represented the first step House Democrats would take to make college more affordable.
Republicans countered that the legislation would do little to increase college access. "We're talking about lowering the interest rate when we should be talking about the cost of tuition," McKeon said.
Republicans maintained that their amendment would better allocate federal resources toward the priority of making higher education affordable to all.
Democrats were unanimous in their support of the underlying bill without amendment, and nine Republicans broke ranks to join them in opposing the motion to recommit. By a vote of 186 to 241, the House rejected a Republican effort to send the bill back to committee with instructions to apply the reduced interest rates only to students earning less than $65,000 after college and to active-duty military personnel. Thus, legislation reducing the interest rates on subsidized college loans by half over the next five years proceeded toward final passage without Republican-sponsored changes limiting its applicability by income and military status.
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