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Jon Kyl: GOP Will Block Student Loan Bill

Despite a desire to pass legislation to forestall an increase in student loan interest rates, Republicans are expected to filibuster a Democratic student loan relief measure in a bid to change the offset.

“We’ll defeat cloture on” the Democrat’s bill, said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). The Senate is slated to vote Tuesday at noon on a motion to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on the motion to proceed to the bill. The cloture motion requires 60 votes to beat back a filibuster and move forward on the measure.

Last week, Senate Republicans had signalled a willingness to at least move on to the bill and appeared inclined to give Democrat the 60 votes needed.

Kyl said the GOP’s stance is designed to trigger talks between House Republican leaders and Senate Democratic leaders — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — so that a compromise can be reached before the July 1 deadline when interest rates on Stafford loans are poised to jump to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent.

“There will be a compromise worked out,” Kyl said. “When it’s clear that [Reid’s] version isn’t going to go anywhere, I presume that leaders of the House and Senate will get together and find a way to ensure that the interest rate doesn’t double.”

Kyl said that the GOP move also stemmed from Democrats signaling that no amendments would be allowed to the bill.

“They have not permitted it up to now, and we only have one vote scheduled,” Kyl said.

The Democratic student loan bill would cover the $6 billion cost of preventing the rise in interest rates by eliminating a corporate tax loophole that allows wealthy individuals to pay less in Social Security and Medicare taxes. Republicans oppose the offset because they believe it would hurt job creation.

They prefer a measure similar to a House-passed bill, which would offset the cost of the interest rate cut by eliminating a fund in the 2010 health care overhaul that covers prevention and public health.

The House bill passed 215-195 and received 13 Democratic votes. Thirty Republicans voted against it.