The votes may not be there to pass federal legislation to relieve student loan debt. That’s according to the Senate Democrat who keeps track of votes, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). He says he can’t predict whether there’s enough support for his bill to allow federal and private student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at lower interest rates. “I don’t know,” Durbin said, “and I’ll tell you why, because I don’t know how many of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle visited college campuses and talked to students over the recess. If they did, they’re going to vote with us.”
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The last time the legislation came up for a vote in the Senate, it fell two votes short of the 60 it needed to pass. All but three Republican Senators voted against it. Durbin says he’s not sure of where U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) stands on the issue.
The bill would allow borrowers to refinance their loans at 3.86 percent. The current federal student loan rate is 4.66 percent. In 2006, that rate was 6.8 percent. Durbin says the legislation would be paid for by implementing the so-called Buffett Rule, which would apply a new minimum tax rate on those who make more than $1 million per year.