Chairman Cleaver’s Statement on the Highway and Student Loan Conference Report
Chairman Emanuel Cleaver released the following statement on the Highway and Student Loan Conference Report:
“More than 100 days ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan, job-creating highway bill with 74 votes – similar to the bill we passed today. H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 will create or save more than 2 million jobs, authorize highway and transit programs for more than two years at current levels, make key reforms consolidating transportation programs, cut red tape, and leverage federal resources to expand public-private partnerships in transportation. I am pleased that an agreement was reached after much delay however, this bill should have been passed months ago. Instead the Republican Leadership has focused on manufactured political and partisan issues, reducing job creation to a mere talking point.
“The highway bill also includes student loan provisions to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates. Without the student loan provisions, on Sunday, July 1, the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This rate hike would have had devastating consequences on more than 7 million students who currently hold Stafford loans and students of color will be hit especially hard. For the first time in history, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United States. People of color, particularly African Americans, are graduating with more student debt. African American students graduate with much more debt than white students. According to the 2010 study by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, student loan debt of $30,500 or higher were more common among 27 percent of black bachelor degree recipients compared to 16 percent of their white counterparts. We need to continue to focus on making college more affordable, particularly at a time when students need a good education to be competitive in the international economy.
“The bottom line is that these are the issues upon which we should focus. Not political gamesmanship in and effort to win elections but rather, our focus should be addressing the critical financial needs our communities face during economic uncertainty. With today’s action, to help students afford college and to strengthen America’s transportation infrastructure, I hope we can restore the confidence of the American people in the political process by continuing to work towards bipartisan solutions.”
-Chairman Emanuel Cleaver