The Ticket

Congress passes student loan-rate extension

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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(Charlie Riedel/AP)

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a transportation bill that included an extension of the low interest rate on government-subsidized student loans, just days before the rate would have doubled.

The bill, which includes more than $100 billion in funding for highway projects over two years, extends the current 3.4 percent student loan rate for one more year at a cost of an estimated $6 billion.

The measure passed 373 to 52. All of the members who opposed it were Republicans.

The path toward passage was a bumpy one, and it looked as though the parties would not be able to find agreement on the many provisions throughout the bill.

NBC's Frank Thorp has a rundown of what ultimately survived:

The package lumps together some of the biggest stumbling blocks to beguile lawmakers in the past few months. Squabbling over how to finance each priority had divided the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-run Senate.

Republicans had also insisted on including a measure to move the Keystone XL oil pipeline forward. President Obama and Democrats opposed it, though, and it was ultimately omitted from today's bill.

Instead, Republicans were able to use funds set aside for "beautification, bike paths, and sidewalk lighting" for higher priority infrastructure projects such as the national highway system instead. They were also able to keep funding at current levels.

The package also cuts the average review and permitting process for new infrastructure projects in half, done mostly by streamlining environmental reviews so they can run concurrently, something for which Republicans had also fought.

The Senate passed the measure not long after the same day by a vote of 74-19. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill before the July 1 deadline.

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