Daniel Reilly, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement after passage of a conference report that will provide long-term highway funding and prevent student loan interest rates from doubling:
“Today the House passed a conference report that will give certainty to millions of students and that will pave the way for jobs and economic growth. This should have been done weeks ago, but instead Republicans took us to the brink of seeing the highway bill expire and student loan interest rates double.
“Democrats remain committed to ensuring that students have access to affordable post-secondary education. Had Congress not acted today – and had Democrats not continued to pressure Republicans to act – over 7 million students would have seen their student loan interest rates double. Keeping these rates low recognizes the challenges our graduates face in today’s tough job market.
“Democrats had also called for action on a transportation bill that will lead to infrastructure improvements that can spur economic growth and job creation in our communities. We pressed for a bill that will protect nearly 2 million jobs and create a million more, including many in the hard-hit construction industry, and one that implements higher safety standards to protect those who travel on our roads and highways. I am pleased we were able to adopt a bill that achieves these goals.
“While conferees wisely chose not to include controversial provisions such as the Keystone XL pipeline and the regulation of coal ash, I remain concerned that provisions streamlining the environmental review of highway projects may truncate or eliminate the consideration of less-costly alternatives that can minimize environmental impacts. Congress must closely monitor the implementation of these provisions.
“While today’s conference report is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done. When we return to Washington after July 4, let us continue in the spirit of bipartisanship that enabled us to pass this bill and work together to meet the challenges we face as a nation.”