March 11th, 2010
04:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Senate Democrats weigh adding student loans to health care bill

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Harry Reid does not expect a decision on student loans today."]Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats huddled in the Capitol Thursday afternoon to hash out the issue of whether to include changes to student loan policies in the same reconciliation bill that will include fixes to health care reform.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from the meeting to say that while a consensus among Democrats is forming, he does not expect a decision on the controversial issue today.
Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said more Senate Democrats support adding the student loan language than oppose it.

"There are some who think it complicates the ultimate vote. There are others who think it helps the ultimate vote. It's an honest difference of opinion," Durbin said.

The student loan legislation is a priority of President Obama and many Democrats on the Hill. It would remove private banks from offering student loans in favor of direct lending from the government.

Many Republicans and some Democrats oppose a government takeover of student loans and say it will cost jobs in many states where those private lending institutions exist.

The reason Democrats are considering adding the student loan language to the bill is because when the budget was passed last year, the student loan legislation was given the same special reconciliation instructions that the health care bill got, meaning it cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Democratic leadership, was asked if lumping the two issues together would muddy the Democrats' message on health reform and fuel the pubic perception of a vastly expanding federal government.

"My own personal perception is, when we have thousands of kids on the street marching because they can't get into our universities and don't have the capability of pay for college, this is the best time for us to act," she said.

Despite marathon negotiation sessions to hammer out differences between the House and Senate visions of health care reform - that will be included the filibuster-proof reconciliation bill - Durbin said there are still "smaller substantive" items to resolve. He said senators were given a "general" presentation of what's expected in the reconciliation bill but some of those decisions can't be made until additional cost assessments come in from the Congressional Budget Office. It was not clear when those figures would be made available.

House and Senate Democratic leaders and White House aides are scheduled to continue their talks Thursday evening.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Marc

    Albeit I am in favor of the Health Care Bill(s) (MERGE THEM FAST!!), I must agree that Student Loans (while necessary) have nothing to do with it.

    March 11, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Vic of New York

    The problem with the private student loans by banks is that these guys were loaning money to by cars and dope..... No one ever checked.

    Worse, many loans were allowed to default and because the banks had federal guarantees – they simply collected from our tax dollars.

    This isn't a "government takeover", the banks were irresponsible to start.

    March 11, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    I am still a supporter of the President and am wanting this Health Care Reform to pass, however, I do not agree with adding Student Loans to the bill. Student loans have nothing to do with health care and it should be dealt with on a seperate basis.

    March 11, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. GOP2010

    The dems already had the Gov. take over the loan industry late last year....and secondly, what do student loans have to do with healthcare?

    What a bunch of morons!!!!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. john

    Can we print enough money to keep up with this government we have? Doesnt matter that the money will be worthless but as long as we can keep printing it it will be OK! Sarcasm off!!!

    March 11, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. Annoyed

    Student loans don't have anything to do with healtcare!!

    March 11, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. terry,va.

    @ stop using the word lynch....It doesn't have anything to do with racism. It was an effective tool in the old west and it didn't work to bad on Saddam Hussein either. Not everyone is a racist that dislikes Obummie. I couldn't care if he was purple if he was doing what he said he would do. He isn't and therefore he needs to get some thick skin or get out of the office. Same goes for his band of fools. I'm tired of the lies. If they can't deliver then shut up!!!!

    March 11, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. Nick

    Do you people even understand what the student loan bill will do? The loans are already government loans. They then pay the bank to distribute them as a middleman. All they want to do is distribute the money themselves. Its not a government take over.
    Putting the bills together will let the Senate get more done. The Repubs are wholesale against anything regardless of it being good policy.

    March 11, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    Republicsn did it right when they pushed the Iraqi war – I guess you missed the fact that Hillary Clinton, Daschle, Reid, Pelosi, John "I was against it before I was for it" Kerry, etc. all pushed for the invasion of Iraq saying it was an immediate threat and we must intervene now!!! But I guess you missed those congressional hearing and haven't seen them on youtube is all their for your to see....But as lib, don't ever let those pesky little facts get in the way of your silly little arguments....

    March 11, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. jules sand-perkins

    Surely, after this idiotic idea, any Democrat in Congress will realize that if he desires even a faint hope of being returned to office by election, he will have to distance himself CLEARLY from Obama.
    By the way, you can't tell American citizens not to say the word "lynch." Anyway, we've already lost too many words and awareness of usages of words to laziness and ignorance.

    March 11, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. Eric-31m

    Sneaky Democrats

    March 11, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. File under "Sarcasm"

    Don't the Democrats realize how ridiculous they look tacking every thing but the kitchen sink on a bill that's supposed to reconcile minor differences in budgets and spending on healthcare.

    Why not throw in some earmarks and maybe a dash of don't ask, don't tell reform and a few grants for ACORN and a pay raise for Congress and amnesty for illegal immigrants and ..................................

    March 11, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. charlotte

    First of all, it's ridiculous to call it a "government takeover" of student loans. They are guaranteed by the government already. Second, it's absurd to say this will increase the cost, since it's almost always cheaper if you cut out the (for-profit) middleman. I find it pretty lame and disingenuous for the teabaggies to squeal "government takeover!" every time the government tries to recover efficiencies that were lost when certain lawmakers decided to outsource so many government functions. They should make up their minds. Are they for outsourcing or are they for fiscal responsibility? As long as those outsourced companies are making profits, it ain't a cost-saving thing.

    March 11, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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