Shaheen Urges Federal Maritime Commission to Address Rising Costs of Overseas Shipping & Help NH Businesses Stay Afloat

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

September 20, 2021

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission last week, urging the agency to address the surge in costs to import goods that threatens the operations and economic recovery of businesses across New Hampshire. Shaheen noted the existential threat facing small businesses who cannot afford container rates whose costs, in some cases, have increased by over 1,000 percent, and requested that the Commission take action to protect businesses from these unsustainable freight rates. 

“On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern regarding the ongoing surge in container prices being charged by overseas carriers,” Shaheen wrote. “I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in the freight rates being charged for the overseas shipment of goods…[posing] an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that rely on reasonable pricing from carriers and sufficient availability of containers to reliably obtain the volume of products needed to maintain their businesses.” 

“More must be done to counter the current container pricing surge and protect our businesses from this unsustainable strain on their supply chains,” she continued. “The exorbitant cost of overseas shipping poses a significant threat to the nation’s fragile economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate action be taken to address the market conditions contributing to this surge in shipping costs.” 

Full text of her letter to FMC Chairman Maffei is available here and below. 

Dear Chairman Maffei, 

On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern regarding the ongoing surge in container prices being charged by overseas carriers. As you are well aware, the significant increase in demand for imported goods has been compounded by a severe scarcity of containers and stagnant growth in capacity by ocean carrier companies, resulting in steep inflation of container prices for importers in my state and across the country. I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in the freight rates being charged for the overseas shipment of goods. Despite this surge in pricing, the unmitigated scarcity of containers has precluded many businesses from importing goods at adequate volumes to serve their customers. The combination of these factors poses an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that rely on reasonable pricing from carriers and sufficient availability of containers to reliably obtain the volume of products needed to maintain their businesses. 

The Federal Maritime Commission is tasked with ensuring a competitive and reliable ocean transportation supply system, one which serves to benefit our economy and protect U.S. businesses from unfair and deceptive practices. I am deeply grateful that the Commission is working to fulfill this mission during this current crisis through the Fact Finding 29 investigation, as well as through interagency coordination with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to address competition issues in the ocean carrier industry. I also believe the implementation of the National Shipper Advisory Committee will provide much needed insight from shippers on how best to mitigate this crisis. However, more must be done to counter the current container pricing surge and protect our businesses from this unsustainable strain on their supply chains. To that end, I am requesting answers to the following questions. 

  1. What measures are available to the Commission to help encourage growth of capacity in the ocean carrier industry? 
  2. How is the Commission working to foster greater competition among ocean carriers? 
  3. How do the Commission’s investigative initiatives serve to address the current container pricing surge? 
  4. How can the Commission streamline information sharing between carriers, shippers and the other integral links of foreign and domestic supply chains? 

The exorbitant cost of overseas shipping poses a significant threat to the nation’s fragile economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate action be taken to address the market conditions contributing to this surge in shipping costs. Thank you for your consideration. 

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Wyden, Merkley: Four Oregon Colleges to Receive More than $400,000 for Child Care for Student Parents

Source: United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore)

September 20, 2021

Oregon State University, Lane Community College, OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College to benefit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that four Oregon colleges will receive a combined more than $400,000 from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program to support parents as they complete their higher education.

Completing a degree program is challenging under most circumstances, but can be especially difficult when trying to navigate child care,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that Oregon State, Lane Community College, OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College have earned the dollars to support Oregon student parents in their educational endeavors.”

“Every Oregonian who chooses to seek higher education deserves the support they need to succeed regardless of whether or not they are a parent,” Merkley said. “I am grateful this grant will allow colleges across Oregon to provide quality child care service to low-income families and encourage participation with entities of higher learning. The need for child care should not be a barrier to obtaining a college degree and I will support any parent who aspires to achieve that milestone.”

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program provides grants to higher education institutions to support the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services. Grants may be used for before- and after-school services. The grant dollars will be distributed as follows:

  • Oregon State University: $220,000
  • Lane Community College: $114,061
  • Oregon State University-Cascades: $30,000
  • Central Oregon Community College: $60,675

“Oregon State University-Cascades is located within a childcare desert, which means the region’s parents lack sufficient quality child care options. With this U.S. Department of Education grant, we will be able to better address the critical needs of our student parents and their children with access to an on-campus child care and early learning center led by early childhood experts,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning at Oregon State University-Cascades. “We are grateful for the support of Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley for this impactful Federal grant.”

“We are thrilled to once again to be a recipient and applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued support of the CCAMPIS program,” said Cheryl Henderson, Lane Community College Child and Family Education Manager. “We know that child care can be a barrier for many people who would like to go to college, so having safe, high-quality, and affordable early-childhood care and education right here on campus can help these students succeed and create brighter futures for their whole families.”

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income families. We also know that there is a chronic lack of affordable, reliable childcare for these same families across Central Oregon,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, President of Central Oregon Community College. ”Funding from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program will help these same communities complete their education and workforce training without having to worry about the cost and quality of their children’s care. COCC thanks Senators Merkley and Wyden for this transformative investment in Central Oregonians’ access to higher education and affordable childcare. Workforce and economic development begins with supporting Oregon families, and COCC is proud to partner in this work.”  

 

Democrats’ Reckless Taxing and Spending Spree Meant to Turn Temporary Pandemic into Permanent Socialism

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree:

“Over the past year and a half, senior Democratic leaders decided the upheaval and hardship of a once-in-a-century pandemic was really a chance to justify radical, left-wing change.

“This isn’t me conjecturing. It’s what they keep saying.

“Right at the start of the crisis, March 2020, the House Democratic Whip said the pandemic offered, ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’

“Just last week, President Biden said, ‘this pandemic has been godawful for so many reasons… but it does present us with an opportunity.’

“Points for honesty, at least.

“The reckless taxing and spending spree that Democrats are writing behind closed doors is designed to leave Americans with a socialist country they never voted for. A country that working families, in many ways, would barely recognize.

“Last night, one of those many efforts hit a stumbling block. Senate Democrats were reminded the rules of this institution will not permit them to shove a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants into the reckless taxing and spending spree they want to ram through on party lines.

“Our Democratic colleagues cannot pretend that massive, transformational policy changes are mere budgetary tweaks. As no less an authority than our colleague now-Chairman Bernie Sanders said just a few years ago, ‘the function of reconciliation is to adjust federal spending and revenue, not to enact major changes in social policy.’

“That’s a lesson he and his caucus need to re-learn.

“Even with the border as insecure as it’s ever been, the far left wanted sweeping amnesty — and Democratic leaders dutifully tried their best. It just goes to show how radical this legislation is going to be.

“Democrats want to tamper with Americans’ Medicare and stretch the program even thinner — while it already faces fiscal challenges.

“They want to interfere massively with the states that chose not to bow to Obamacare mandates on Medicaid.

“They want to use healthcare dollars to line the pockets of special interests with big union giveaways.

“And they want to impose socialist price controls on Americans’ medicines that would leave us with fewer new treatments and new cures in the future.

“It all adds up to a massive leap towards socialized medicine.

“But somehow this still only scratches the surface.

“Democrats are also trying to force through an unprecedented federal takeover of American families’ childcare options that may leave faith-based childcare providers high and dry.

“They want an all-out assault on affordable, reliable, homegrown American energy — so the entire country can be marched toward California utility prices, California gas prices, and California electricity blackouts. Just what families want.

“I could go on all day. The reckless taxing and spending spree that Democrats are writing behind closed doors is shaping up to be exactly what they promised:

“An effort to exploit this terrible but temporary pandemic as a Trojan horse for permanent socialism.”

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Leader McConnell Honors Congressman Rogers Milestone

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor recognizing U.S. Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) for becoming the longest-serving Member of Congress in Kentucky history on September 2, 2021:

“U.S. Representative Hal Rogers once described Southeastern Kentuckians by saying, ‘they’re honest, forthright… they can see through a phony in a minute flat.’ So it’s fitting his constituents just reelected him by seventy points: he is certainly honest, forthright – and no phony.

“For over forty years, Hal has fought for his home region and delivered unparalleled support for its development and growth. In honor of Hal becoming the longest-serving Representative in the history of the Commonwealth earlier this September, I’d like to pay tribute to this one-of-a-kind Kentuckian.

“I first met Hal during the 1971 Kentucky gubernatorial election. He was already a rising star in the state Republican Party, having just been elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski and Rockcastle counties two years prior. As a fellow attorney and young conservative, I looked up to Hal and watched his career with great interest.

“Less than a decade later, Hal was elected to the House of Representatives in Kentucky’s fifth congressional district, the same year Ronald Reagan was elected president. Since then, he’s won reelection twenty times, always by a wide margin. He loves his corner of the state and – as his repeated victories absolutely prove – his constituents love him right back.

“Once Hal got to Congress, he quickly went to work fighting for the issues his constituents care about most. His hard-won legislative victories earned him praise from fellow House Republicans, who tapped him to lead the first House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Eight years later, he became Chairman of the full House Appropriations Committee, expertly cutting spending, reducing waste, and directing funds to important projects all across the country.

“As a former Commonwealth’s Attorney, Hal used his law enforcement credentials to defend Kentucky from a wide array of threats. Before the rest of America was paying full attention to the scourge of substance abuse, Hal launched Operation UNITE. The anti-narcotics initiative covers 32 Kentucky counties and has been on the front lines in the fight against the opioid epidemic, helping to lock up thousands of criminals and remove millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs from the streets.

“Hal is a lead promotor of investment in Southeastern Kentucky, which for too long has suffered economic distress and seen indifference from Washington. He united Kentucky’s Appalachian counties around the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, initiative to create a concerted effort to attract jobs and development to the region. He revolutionized Southeastern Kentucky’s water infrastructure, bringing new water treatment centers to our state and championing flood protection measures. He wrangled federal funding for the Cumberland Gap Tunnel in Bell County, described at the time as ‘the most significant thing that has happened there since Daniel Boone began to bring settlers through the gap.’ He helped bring the fine arts to Southeastern Kentucky through the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg.

“Locals are so appreciative of Hal’s many projects that they dubbed the state-of-the-art Center for Rural Development in Somerset – one of his capstone initiatives – the ‘Taj Ma-Hal’ in his honor. And that’s not the only place in Hal’s district that commemorates his service. If you visit Southeastern Kentucky, you can drive along the gorgeous Hal Rogers Parkway, study groundbreaking technical advances at the Hal Rogers Advanced Technology Center, and learn important career skills as part of the Hal Rogers Scholars program. Whitley County residents were so thankful for Hal’s work that they even named the home of their new Kentucky Splash Water Park the Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center.

“In Congress, we are just as fond of Hal Rogers as his constituents are at home. I’ve been proud to work alongside this premier legislator for nearly four decades. We share the same priorities for the people of Kentucky and the same vision for our state’s great future.

“Hal would not be the man he is today without the love and support of his late wife, Shirley, and their children Anthony, Allison, and John. Later in life, Hal met and married Cynthia, a Tennessean who has also come to love Kentucky and its people. As Hal breaks the record as the longest serving U.S. Representative in Kentucky’s history, let’s all give thanks to this great public servant and the entire Rogers family.”

As Democrats Go It Alone on Reckless Borrowing, They Will Need to Handle Debt Limit Alone

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the debt limit:

“Democrats have unified control of the Senate, the House, and the White House. Their strategy for all this ‘transformational’ borrowing, spending, and tax hikes was deliberately designed to include no Republican input and receive no Republican votes.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I have explained this clearly and consistently for two months now.

“We do not have divided government. Democrats do not need our help. They have every tool to address the debt limit on their own: the same party-line process they used to ram through inflationary spending in March and already plan to use again this fall.

“This might inconvenience Democrats. It might delay their next reckless taxing and spending spree. But Democrats cannot risk the full faith and credit of our nation to serve their own partisan timelines.

“Democrats decided to govern alone. Their unified Democratic government must put basic governing duties ahead of partisan wish lists. If they don’t, the consequences for our country would be catastrophic.

“Senate Republicans would support a clean continuing resolution that includes appropriate disaster relief and targeted Afghan assistance. We will not support legislation that raises the debt limit.

“Remember, when the debt suspension lapsed in August, the debt limit was automatically ratcheted up to account for all the borrowing that had occurred up to that date. This isn’t about the past. It’s about the future.

“And Democrats want to build a partisan future without our input.

“So Democrats will not get bipartisan facilitators for their purely partisan spending binge.

“Democrats are fully capable of owning this step themselves. The Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee admitted just yesterday: ‘We can do it through reconciliation. [But] [l]eadership has said they don’t want to do that.’

“One party controls the entire government. They have the power to address this alone. And as I have warned since July, that is what they’ll need to do.”

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Wyden Applauds $952,951 CAHOOTS Planning Grant for Oregon

Source: United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore)

September 20, 2021

Modeled on the Eugene-based CAHOOTS program operated by the White Bird Clinic, mobile crisis intervention services help those struggling with mental illness receive needed care instead of involving law enforcement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today applauded the Biden administration for announcing a $952,951 planning grant award for Oregon’s Medicaid program to support the development of mobile crisis intervention service programs to help those struggling with mental health and substance use disorder crises.

“This grant will kick-start the effort to help those experiencing a mental health crisis in Oregon get the services they need and reduce the prospect of an encounter with law enforcement,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “I’m optimistic that next year communities around our state and country will be able to implement mobile crisis intervention services with this major investment from Medicaid. Meanwhile I continue to work to extend this program and truly reimagine public safety in Oregon and the United States.” 

Mobile crisis intervention services are designed to help those struggling with mental illness receive needed care instead of involving law enforcement. Modeled on the Eugene, Ore., based CAHOOTS program operated by the White Bird Clinic, these services allow a multi-disciplinary team to respond to mental health crises in order to stabilize and de-escalate the situation and help connect individuals to the health care and wraparound services they need.

In addition to meeting in Eugene with White Bird to work on increasing opportunities to expand the CAHOOTS approach to other communities statewide and nationwide, Wyden also has heard interest in recent months in Pendleton, Portland, Medford and Astoria about the CAHOOTS approach in those communities.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $15 million in planning grants for state Medicaid agencies to help set up these services around the country. These planning dollars will help states take advantage of enhanced Medicaid funding that will be available for these services beginning next year. Under the ARP, states that opt-in will be able to receive a higher federal Medicaid match, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), of 85 percent for qualifying mobile crisis services. CBO estimated that this provision will give states $1 billion in additional federal Medicaid dollars for mobile crisis services in the coming years.

 



NEWS: New Study Finds DOD Efforts to Combat Waste and Fraud Are Incomplete and Inadequate

Source: United States Senator for Vermont – Bernie Sanders

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Monday requested by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) that found the Department of Defense has not finalized and implemented a comprehensive approach to combat department-wide fraud. Despite the Pentagon regularly signing contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the Department’s ability to conduct fraud risk assessments and report procurement fraud risk remain incomplete and inadequate.

“The Pentagon doesn’t seem to want to get serious about combatting the fraud, waste, and financial mismanagement that has been its legacy for decades,” said Sen. Sanders. “They don’t seem to want to get serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively. Well, I think we can all agree, that is absolutely unacceptable. Currently, the U.S. spends more on our nation’s military than the next thirteen countries combined. Meanwhile, half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, just under 40 million Americans are living in poverty, and over 600,000 Americans are homeless including roughly 40,000 veterans. The time is long overdue for the Defense Department to be held to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government.”

“This independent report shows that the Trump Administration utterly failed to address the Pentagon’s longstanding problems with financial management, including procurement fraud,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “This failure to safeguard taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable, and I urge the Biden Administration to quickly and fully implement GAO’s recommendations and put the Defense Department on a path to operate more efficiently and effectively, with the confidence that it is not spending money on fraudulent contracts.”

The Pentagon is the largest contracting agency in the federal government and generally accounts for about two-thirds of all federal contracting activity, obligating more than all civilian federal agencies combined. GAO’s review examined Department of Defense fraud risk management activities for the period of October 2019 through September 2020.

“Fraud poses a significant risk to program integrity and erodes public trust in the government,” according to GAO’s report. “In fiscal year 2020, DOD obligated approximately $422 billion on contracts. The scope and scale of this activity makes DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud.” GAO also reported that, “given the billions of dollars DOD spends annually on procurement, failing to manage and mitigate fraud effectively may ultimately adversely affect DOD’s ability to support the warfighter.”

GAO’s findings included:

  • The full extent of fraud associated with Pentagon contracting cannot be fully determined at this time, due to faulty and incomplete reporting and implementation.
  • DOD’s Fraud Reduction Task Force – a cross-functional team tasked with prioritizing fraud risks and identifying solutions – remains incomplete with almost 20% of positions vacant, including representatives from the Air Force and Army.
  • Half of the components evaluated were not reporting on procurement fraud risks in their most recent risk assessments, as required by DOD.

GAO recommended that DOD takes needed steps to combat procurement fraud, such as filling the vacant positions on the task force and updating policies and practices to strengthen fraud risk assessments.

Even before Chairman Sanders and Chairwoman Maloney requested this report, there was a long-documented history of waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon. In 2018, DOD reported to Congress that from fiscal years 2013 to 2017, over $6.6 billion had been recovered from defense contracting fraud cases. In 2020, the DOD Office of Inspector General reported that 395 of its 1,716 ongoing investigations – or approximately one-in-five – are related to procurement fraud.

Since 1995, DOD financial management has been on GAO’s High-Risk List of operations that are “vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement, or in need of transformation.” Congress mandates all federal agencies to comply with annual independent audits, but the Defense Department remains the only U.S. federal agency that is unable to pass a clean audit opinion – preventing GAO from expressing an audit opinion of the entire federal government.

Over the past two decades, virtually every major defense contractor in the U.S. has paid billions of dollars in fines and settlements for misconduct and fraud – all while making significant profits on government contracts. About half of the Pentagon’s budget goes directly into the hands of private contractors.

Read the full GAO study here.

Daines to Biden: Continued Closure of Northern Border for Montanans vs Keeping Southern Border Open to Illegal Immigrants is Beyond Hypocritical, Hurting Montana

Source: United States Senator for Montana Steve Daines

09.20.21

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines released the following statement after President Biden once again extended the closure of the northern border until at least October 21. This extension comes despite the Biden administration keeping the southern border open to historic numbers of illegal immigrants, many potentially unvaccinated. 

“Once again, President Biden has ignored the well-being of Montana families and businesses. Biden’s continued refusal to open the northern border is inexplicable and is devastating Montana border communities and our economy,” Daines said. “While Biden keeps the northern border closed, the southern border is wide open to illegal immigrants, many of whom are potentially unvaccinated, flooding our communities with illegal drugs and overwhelming our law enforcement.” 

Background:

On September 1, 2021, Daines and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik called on Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take action on their bill, the “Restoring Northern Border Travel Act,” which would finally reopen the U.S.-Canada border.

On August 20, 2021, Daines blasted President Biden’s choice to extend the closure of the northern border despite Canada reopening the border for fully vaccinated Americans on August 9th.

On August 9, 2021, Daines slammed President Biden for using COVID-19 as a ploy to keep the northern border closed to Montana families and businesses, while keeping the southern border wide open to illegal drugs and illegal immigrants, many of them potentially COVID-19 positive.

On June 24, 2021, Daines introduced a bill with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to require the Biden administration to open the northern border.

On March 10, 2021, Daines sent a letter to the Biden Administration, urging them to safely reopen the border in support of Montana’s economy. 

On June 17, 2020, Daines sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security urging them to safely reopen the border as soon as possible.

On April 3, 2020, Daines urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection to keep Montana’s ports of entry open to Montana agricultural and trade during the pandemic.

On March 20, 2020, Daines wrote President Trump about the importance of trade and travel over the Canadian border during the pandemic. 

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Contact: Katherine McKeoghKatie Schoettler

Daines Presses Biden Administration for Answers on Vetting Process for Evacuees Out of Afghanistan

Source: United States Senator for Montana Steve Daines

09.20.21

U.S. SENATE —  U.S. Senator Steve Daines today pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for clear details on the vetting process used for evacuees out of Afghanistan before they enter the United States to ensure the U.S. is not granting entry to dangerous individuals or child traffickers.

I write to seek more clarity regarding the admission and vetting of refugees and other individuals from Afghanistan. While admitting those who served alongside U.S. forces and those who would face religious persecution is laudable, there is a great deal of public confusion as to the full scope of those who are entering the U.S. following the fall of Afghanistan’s government to the Taliban and the subsequent U.S. withdrawal,” Daines wrote. 

“As you know, there is significant concern with admitting large numbers of immigrants from a war-torn country like Afghanistan, which has a lack of comprehensive records from which to screen most people. Further, this administration’s calamitous and rushed withdrawal has significantly eroded public trust given reports that more than 120,000 people were evacuated, yet most Special Immigrant Visa applicants and a number of U.S. citizens were left behind. Equally as concerning, there are numerous media reports of potential child trafficking cases involving ‘child brides’ and of women and children being subjected to sexual abuse prior to their departure from Afghanistan,” Daines continued.

Read the letter HERE.

Following a meeting with Montana veterans in August, Daines demanded answers from the Biden administration about the Americans and Afghan allies left behind and the vetting process for individuals who are being brought to the United States.

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Contact: Katherine McKeoghKatie Schoettler

 

 



ICYMI: Rubio: It’s Time for a New Approach to Student Loans

Source: United States Senator for Florida Marco Rubio

It’s time for a new approach to student loans
By Senator Marco Rubio
September 19, 2021
Florida Times-Union
 
Loan cancellation would mean hundreds of billions of dollars shelled out without congressional authorization. That money would come from 200 million American taxpayers, including those who already repaid their loans and those who decided not to pursue a college degree, who would subsidize some of our nation’s wealthiest Americans. Not only is it wrong, but it would do nothing for our nation’s future student borrowers.
 

 
In short, the Democrats’ proposal is expensive, unsustainable, grossly unfair and counterproductive. It represents a giveaway to our nation’s most educated at the expense of others, but also an inadequate fix to a perpetual problem.
 
It is important to recognize, however, that there is a need for action. Today, millions of Americans are drowning in student loan debt and that problem is only getting worse.
 
My LOAN Act provides the right answer.
 
The legislation would reform our federal direct student loan system by eliminating interest and replacing it with a one-time, non-compounding financing fee paid out over the life of the loan. No more inflated, compounding interest rates that obscure the true cost of college loans. 
 
The LOAN Act would help borrowers by taking the unique financial circumstances of the borrower into consideration. With an income-based repayment (IBR) plan as the default option, new graduates would not suddenly be swamped with monthly repayments they cannot afford.
 

 
The LOAN Act has garnered support from United Negro College Fund president, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, who described it as “a strong and robust proposal,” noting that “low-income students would fare better under the repayment system [it] creates versus our current structure.”
 
And the Bipartisan Policy Center said the income-based repayment plan “would support federal student loan borrowers by promoting simplification, transparency, and automatic features in the student loan repayment process.”
 
Student debt is not going away, and simply wiping the slate clean for Americans currently grappling with it is not an enduring solution. But we can have a more transparent system that does not trap Americans looking to pursue an education with exploding interest payments and unmanageable burden. The system needs real reform, and my LOAN Act offers the right way forward.
 
Read the rest