Perlmutter, Democrats Lead Effort to Force Vote on Student Loan Debt Refinancing Bill

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Washington, D.C., July 14, 2016 | comments
Washington, D.C. — This week, U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney (CT-02), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Eric Swalwell (CA-15) led a discharge petition in an effort to force a yes-or-no vote on H.R. 1434, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. In less than forty-eight hours, nearly 170 House Democrats signed the discharge petition in support of allowing students to refinance existing loans.

H.R. 1434 would allow borrowers with existing undergraduate student loans issued prior to July 1st, 2015 to refinance those loans to a 3.86 percent annual interest rate. Graduate school loans could be refinanced to 5.41 percent, and parent loans for a child’s education to 6.41 percent. According to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, half of the outstanding loan volume for federal student loans—about $460 billion—would be refinanced under this bill.

Perlmutter and the other members leading the effort released the following statement about the discharge petition:

“With the cost of a college education skyrocketing, we must act to demand action to lower the crushing costs of higher education and relieve the burden of student debt. The challenges faced by our constituents are staggering – student loans account for $1.3 trillion in consumer debt, the highest amount of consumer debt outside of a mortgage, and the average student borrower carries nearly $30,000 in education debt. This is not just a drag on students, graduates, and their families; it’s a drag on our entire economy. When a potential borrower is burdened by student debt, it makes it that much more difficult to buy a home, start a family, or change a career.

“Interest rates for these loans are often far higher than other forms of consumer borrowing. Yet, unlike other forms of debt, a student loan cannot be refinanced as interest rates drop – saddling over 24 million borrowers with thousands of dollars in extra debt. That’s why we are pushing for a vote on the Courtney/Warren Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act which will enable borrowers to refinance student loan debt just like they can with home loans, car loans, or credit cards loans.”

In the U.S. House of Representatives, a discharge petition is a way to bring a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration and requires support from an absolute majority of members (218 members). Most recently, a discharge petition was successfully used to bring up the renewal of the Export-Import Bank in October of 2015.

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