What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Public Employees : HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Amendment by Sessions of Alabama that would delete a new loan forgiveness program for public sector employees/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 257)
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HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Amendment by Sessions of Alabama that would delete a new loan forgiveness program for public sector employees/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 257     Jul 19, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would strike a program established by the underlying bill that would create a new student loan forgiveness program for some public-sector employees with 10 years of service. The underlying bill would, in essence, take nearly $19 billion in federal subsidies away from student loan lenders and instead redirect that money into new student loans, among other items related to enabling more students to be able to afford college tuitions.

Sessions said having a loan forgiveness program for people who dedicate significant portions of their worklife to being a public servant in certain fields, such as teaching and emergency response, sounds good. But he said the program is unfair because it does not include every public sector worker, and because it excludes those in the private sector.

"Why should a public employee be elevated to a higher class of treatment of loan forgiveness than those in the private sector, those hard-working American taxpayers who are not lucky enough to have an air-conditioned office and a Government-sector job?" Sessions said. He also said the program will balloon into another large government program that will "cost more and more as time goes along."

Session's amendment struck at one of the key programs that President Bush dislikes. When the bill was considered in the House, the Bush administration threatened a veto. However, when the Senate took up the House bill, the White House expressed concern with the bill, but stopped short of re-issuing its veto threat.

Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, defended the program, saying it will apply to individuals who work with public safety, with children and the disabled among others. "These are areas where there are critical shortages. Would not the Senator agree with me that these represent—represent—professions which are making a difference for other people, for other individuals? If we are able to have dedicated, competent, able, gifted people who work in those years, we are going to be a better Nation for doing it," Kennedy said.

By a vote of 42-55, Sessions' amendment was defeated. Every Democrat present voted against the amendment. Most Republicans, with the exception of six, voted for the amendment in favor of the White House position. Thus, the measure went forward with its debt forgiveness program for certain public sector employees intact.

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