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. Ray E.

    Student Loans? Didn't I just read where half of the schools in Kansas City, Mo. are closing? Higher Tution at many Universities? I think that comes under Economics 101. It is PART of those students education! If you want to go to school be prepared to WORK for it! The Gravy Train has run out of track! If you want to get back on that track you are going to have to re-build it. Of course with all the huge deficits now in place where will you get a position, er a job.

    March 11, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. WHAT???????????

    GOOD GRIEF!!!!!!!!!!! We MUST vote these idiots out of Washington...

    Student loans have nothing to do with health care...

    I simply cannot believe what I am reading...Get rid of them all !!!

    March 11, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    No wonder there are 290 US Congressional bills waiting to be voted on in the US Senate before becoming law.

    Its time to replace the do-nothing Harry Reid with a Democratic US Senator that will break the logjam of 290 US Congressional bills by going to a simple UP or DOWN vote on each and everyone of them.

    Harry Reid is wasting valuable time with his tip-toeing around the Republican obstructionism which has threatened to grind all Senate business to a halt. Replace Harry Reid with a Democratic US Senator that will get the job done as quickly as possible. Forget who's Republican toes you step on, push the bills thru the Senate Chambers by a majority vote.

    March 11, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. Average American

    I support both, but I don't understand why they need to be put together. Make the party of NO vote against heath care reform, thus allowing health insurance companies to continue to make medical decisions for American citizens, and against student loan reform, thus allowing big banks to continue to charge outrageous rates for kids who just want an education. Let's see which side (average people or big corporations) each politician is on.

    March 11, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Four and the Door

    From this Democratic Administration and congress, you will see very messy bills containing things that don't relate to one another. This is all about buying votes. Imagine if there was a Democratic Senator who doesn't support health care reform by a reconcilation vote but supports federal government takeover of student loan programs. Put student loan programs on the health care bill and force him not to vote against the student loan program.

    This is exactly what needs to be fixed in Washington politics. This does not serve the needs of the country, just the politicians.

    March 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. ib

    The demo's cannot stop this uncontrolled spending. Our country will be totally bankrupt and destroyed before they stop. Vote them out in Nov. please for the sake of our country.

    March 11, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. alex badme

    More gov takeover. Appropriate to add. yes Comrade Obama please let me know what my job will be, what you will pay me, and where you will give me a house. I worship you for you are the great and wise one.

    March 11, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Can't pass the health care bill? Hey let's make it more confusing to people. Maybe that will help or at least fool enough people.

    March 11, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. I support both, but pass them separately

    I support the health care bill because it's better than nothing, but in the long run single payer is the only way to go. If private enterprise worked the U.S. would have the best system in the world instead of one of the worst, that costs tons of money and literally makes us sick. My friends in Europe feel desperately sorry for us - I hate that. The U.S. *should* be number one - we have the best doctors & hospitals, but many can't afford to use them. Take out fat cat greedhead insurance corporation profits and there is plenty of money for health care. And yes, I'm calling for socialism in health care - deal with it. Private enterprise works great for making cool new iPhones but it sucks in providing health care.

    March 11, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. terry,va.

    What's student loans got to do with health care? Just another addition to government take over. We need to lynch the fools in DC!!!!

    March 11, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Glennis

    Just stop it! This thing is a monstrosity now, stop adding more to it! Especially stop adding things that are of no relevance! If this passes we'll all be worse off than before; don't think we won't. We certainly need to do something to rein in the costs of insurance and actual healthcare costs but this does NOT address the root causes. It simply puts a bandaid, or rather many bandaids on it. The bleeding just pops out elsewhere.

    March 11, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    THe Dems and You liberals are absolutely support more gov't control of your lives...the gov't doesn't have the money to support it own budgets but now they think they can borrow more money from China to provide for student loans!!!! What a bunch of ignorant morons you have elected....

    March 11, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Lard that overstuffed thing up libs. But pull a special trick, make it only available to union and Acorn members and then tell America how good it will be for them. What the heck is a little more theft for you buddies. And of course the dope smoking wizard of rush, a libitoad, agrees with this corrupt crap.

    March 11, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Maybe they should add giving us all ponies too. How many bribes, backroom deals and threats will the White House use to try to get this passed?

    March 11, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Here we go again. The nutjobs with their "government takeover".

    Funny, cause if you look at Helath Care, government is about 40-45% involved already.

    Taking a deeper look will show you that government intervention in the private sector increased every single year that Republicans were the majority.

    But those are facts, and I know that sickens you.

    So lets go back to talking points. Government take over is evil....rawr raaaaaawwr. Scary government

    March 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. terry,va.

    @ I support both.....Move your sorry @ss to Europe or where ever you want to practice your socialist beliefs. If you pay taxes, which I bet you don't and I'd bet I pay more in taxes than you make if you do work, you wouldn't have that opinion. I give to a lot of charities, but I don't view our government as one of them. They are nothing but a thieving bunch of idiots who couldn't run a corner lemonade stand.

    March 11, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. seebofubar

    Hey Democrats, do you want the government to wipe your behind too?
    What a bunch of loosers you are.

    March 11, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. Marko

    Stop it!!! That is creating a monopoly on student loans. Exactly what you are supposed to fighting against. My son is in college and he got a better rate from a bank than a government loan.

    March 11, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Four and the Door

    I support both, but pass them separately March 11th, 2010 5:23 pm ET
    ... Private enterprise works great for making cool new iPhones but it sucks in providing health care.
    You can buy iPhones across state lines. There is plenty of competition in the handheld phone industry and lots of money to be made.

    If we had a single provider like AT&T before they were broken up, we would all still be leasing phones on the wall with rotary dials. Once competition kicked in and other companies saw plenty of opportunities, telecommunications came to life. Look at the industry now. Look at the great products, low prices and universal access.

    Let's not go backwards with something as important as health care.

    March 11, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Stop using the word "lynch" ...

    ...your racism is showing. It's okay not to like the bill, but that's a racially charged word.

    March 11, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Ah yes, the loons on here angry that US tax dollars are once again being spent on the United States.

    The nerve of these people who WE elect to spend money on US.

    This money we are spending should go to Haliburton, Exxon and Iraq.

    NOT the American people.

    We should only be providing billions of dollars in tax relief to big corporations. What in the world is wrong with these democrats, helping middle calss citizens.

    Americans DO NOT contribute anything to the United States, and so we should never spend tax money on US.

    March 11, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Michael, Phoenix AZ

    What they really need to do is increase the ceiling limits on student loans for undergraduates, especially since at many schools one can not complete their degree in 4 years. It averages almost 6 years at Arizoina State to get a BA or BS in a lot of majors simply because they can't get the classes when they need to take them.

    March 11, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Ann

    ..these Obamaidiots are totally confused.. what has the student loan to do with the health care reform.

    March 11, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. valwayne

    What do student loans have to do with Healthcare? Just like the corrupt stimulous bill they will spend trillions and trillions to fill the pockets of the special interests and to buy votes. Trillions and trillions in additional debt that could explode the economy of this country. When have we ever seen so much arrogance and corruption. The Democrats are totally corrupt and totally out of control!!!

    March 11, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    I ALMOST forgot to add that if we do backroom deals, it should only be with big corporations. Republicsn did it right when they pushed the Iraqi war and they supported the free market by borrowing $800 billion to fund contractors in Iraq.


    March 11, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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