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Analysis: Congress Continues Talks On Student Loans, Highway Bill

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Congress is facing several deadlines this week; they have until June 30 to make a deal to prevent a student loan interest hike and to extend funding for federal highway programs. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about the details. Following are highlights of his analysis.

On the student loan issue in the Senate: "Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader, were reportedly talking over the weekend on how to pay for this," Hawkings says. "To keep the subsidized Stafford loan at 3.4 percent for another year would cost the taxpayers $5.96 billion ... and Republicans are insisting it be offset elsewhere. The sides have not been able to agree."

What's being said on student loan interest in the House: "On the House side, more and more Republicans are saying we don't need to do this; this is bad policy, it's an unnecessary spending of $6 billion," Hawkings says.

On negotiations with the transportation bill: "The negotiations are happening in a pretty intense cone of silence. That's usually a good sign ... when the leaks go down, it generally means that a deal is getting close," Hawkings says. "The key issue here is that the Republicans want to add to that bill favorite projects of theirs that have less to do with transportation, and more to do with energy. It seems that the deal will be that Republicans will allow votes on that separately."

Whether this week's Supreme Court decisions on immigration and health care will affect the student loan rate and transportation issues: "They could, but ... only if there's a failure, I think. I think leaders on both side realize that there are a couple of things that need to get done in this election year," Hawkings says. "They've seen their approval rating go down to as low as 10 percent, it's now up to about 17 percent ... both sides have some fear that if they don't get these two matters done by July 4, there could be an anti-incumbent wave going."

Listen to the full analysis here.

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