Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The student loan interest rate problem was resolved several years ago, but this is what happens when legislation needs to be renewed every few years.
Congress missed its deadline last week to prevent student-loan interest rates from spiking, but Senate Democrats returned from the 4th of July break with a compromise bill that would keep the lower rates in place for another year while negotiations continued on a more permanent solution. (The "kick the can down the road" compromise for which the Senate is famous, or infamous).
The compromise bill passed the Senate today on a 52-48 vote, but don't get too excited. In any other democracy in the world a simple majority vote is all that is needed for a bill to be approved. But not in the U.S. Senate, where Tea-Publicans engage in a tyranny of the minority by abusing the Senate cloture rules, aka the "filibuster," by demanding a super-majority vote on every bill in a partisan politlcal strategy of scorched-earth obstruction.
Steve Benen reports, Republican filibuster derails student loan bill:
[The] bill reached the floor this afternoon, and a majority of senators
supported it. But in today's Senate, we don't count whether a bill has a
majority — we count whether a bill can overcome a Republican filibuster.
The Senate on Wednesday failed to advance a bill backed by Democratic
leaders that would keep student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for
In a 51-49 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and proceed with the bill.
It would have been 52-48 but Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had to switch his vote for procedural reasons.
Regardless, literally every Republican
in the chamber supported the filibuster, as did Sens. Joe Manchin
(D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who prefer a separate compromise
bill that ties interest rates to the 10-year Treasury rate.
risk of sounding picky about these things, most of the reports I've
seen say the Senate "failed" to pass the student-loan bill. But that's
not what happened — if the bill came up for a vote, it would pass.
Rather, what happened is that a minority of the Senate decided keeping
student-loan interest rates at a lower level is so offensive, it
wouldn't even allow members to vote up or down on the idea.
really wasn't that radical an idea. The Democratic plan would have kept
interest rates at 3.4% — exactly where they have been for the past few
years — at a cost of about $4.6 billion. The bill wouldn't have raised
taxes or increased the deficit, but rather, would have been paid for by
closing a tax loophole on IRS inheritances. This is what needed to die at the hands of a filibuster.
The House, which doesn't allow filibusters, passed a GOP alternative
that would have allowed interest rates on student loans to go up, which
Democrats in both chambers consider a non-starter.
If you are a college student, be sure to thank your Tea-Publican representatives for raising your student loan interest rates to benefit the banksters of Wall Street that they serve.
Today's vote appears to be part of a high-stakes game of poker in which the Septegenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell, just upped the ante on the Honey Badger, Harry Reid, and the Democratic Caucus discussions today and tomorrow about invoking the "constitutional option" (which the media prefers to call the "nuclear option") to change the Senate filibuster rules and end this gross abuse of Senate rules and the tyranny of the minority by Tea-Publicans.
It is the "constitutional option" because the U.S. Constitution only requires a super-majority vote for treaties, impeachment, expulsions, constitutional amendments, and veto overrides. That's all.
The Founding Fathers considered making the Senate a super-majority chamber, but rejected the idea.
"In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton wrote that a super majority
Congress would in practice serve to, quote, 'embarrass the
administration, destroy the energy of government, and substitute the
pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or
corrupt junta to the regular deliberations and decisions of a
This describes the Tea-Publican tyranny in the U.S. Senate today perfectly. This is not the Senate the Founding Fathers designed or intended. It is a corruption of the democratic legislative process.