Executive Secretary, Government Relations
September 9, 2013
Congress returns from its summer recess today with a host of issues that will dominate the fall session. The primary issues this week will first be the vote on the Syria resolution and then later in the week House consideration of a short-term Continuing Resolution to begin Fiscal Year 2014. It appears the “clean” CR will run until December 13 and initially fund the government at the FY13 current services level -- $988 billion – rather than the $967 billion level which assumes sequestration stays in place for 2014. Movement of individual appropriations bills seems finished for the year, although a final spending agreement in December could follow last year’s model which saw regular appropriations bills for Defense and a few other agencies paired with a Continuing Resolution for the remainder of the year for all other agencies. The debate on raising the debt limit is expected to heat up with the Treasury Department’s announcement that the nation’s borrowing authority could be exhausted in mid-October. However, there is talk of passing a “suspension” of the debt limit for a few months to buy Congress more time. A similar suspension was passed at the beginning of this year. The White House wants a spending agreement this fall for FY14 that raises the debt ceiling and finds a way to remove sequestration. Immigration reform is awaiting action in the House but many believe now that it will be effectively pushed into next year’s session, after Congressional primary elections have occurred. After this week, the House has only 5 legislative days left this month and plans to have a district recess the week of September 23. The Senate is in session for the whole month.
August 12, 2013
On Friday a new law was enacted that is designed to fix student loan interest rates to the 10-year U.S. Treasury note. It will also establish interest rate ceilings and lock interest rates for the loan’s lifetime. In the process, interest rates will be slashed for the upcoming 2013-14 academic year, with undergraduate rates reduced from 6.8 percent to 3.86 percent.
The law will also retroactively apply to loans taken out after July 1, when interest rates on federal Stafford loans doubled.