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Senate Sets Up Student Loan Show Votes

The Senate will take another crack at passing a student loan interest rate bill Thursday, but a bipartisan agreement to hold two votes does not mean a bill is expected to pass.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced today that the chamber will vote first on a GOP amendment to the bill and then on whether to pass the Democratic version. Neither is expected to get the 60 votes needed for approval.

Both versions would extend the current 3.4 percent interest rate for student loans. Without Congressional action, those rates are set to double July 1.

The partisan battle has been over how to pay for the $6 billion cost of preventing the interest rate increase. Democrats would do so by eliminating a corporate tax loophole that allows wealthy individuals to pay less in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

The Senate GOP amendment is likely to mirror a House-passed bill that offset the cost by eliminating a fund for prevention and public health that was included in the 2010 health care reform bill.

Notably, Senate Republicans have agreed to at least allow the bill to be debated, rather than blocking it from coming to the floor at all. On May 8, Republicans filibustered a Reid attempt to bring the bill to floor.

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