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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 7, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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oel stangler, a student with a 4.12g.p.a. she dprad waited from rogers high school in minnesota as their valedictorian. she is also senior class president and the captain of her volleyball teevment team. she doesn't lack motivation when it comes to school. both of joelle's parents were teachers. she comes from a long line going back six generations but a couple of years ago joelle's mom casey made the difficult decision to quit her job as a teacher to go to work in the private sector where she would get more money so she could help send her four kids to college. among the fifth grade classes in
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her school district, mrs. stengler's students showed some of the highest rates of improvements on test scores. we lost a great teacher because of how expensive postsecondary education is. and not only that, even with her mom's sacrifice joelle, who is only in her second year of college already has $12,000 in student loans and she estimates her total debt will be around $30,000 by the time she graduates. again, that is even with her mom leaving the job she loves the job really as a society we would want her to be in and that she is so great at. now, at the round tables i have around the state of minnesota i always hear about students working multiple jobs. sometimes even putting in 40
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hours a week while going to school full time. now working at school is a good thing. it's not a bad thing. not necessarily. some work can help students manage their time, become more productive and of course help pay for college. but evidence shows that when a student starts to work more than 15 hours a week, it becomes harder for the student to maintain good grades in school and to graduate from school on time. students are working more because college is becoming less and less affordable, and they're still taking out more and more student loans and graduating with more and more debt despite having worked while they were in school. i just don't think that is right, and i don't think it's productive for our country.
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one student at the last round table i did told me, said i can work 40 hours a week and have less debt or i can work 20 hours a week and be more involved in school. that's not the kind of choice students should have to face in america today. now, i've talked to students who work full time while going to school and actually give blood sell their blood every once in a while to help pay maybe their rent or their housing. now recently some encouraging things have happened in minnesota thanks to the work of governor mark dayton and the state legislature our state's publicniversities received an increase in funding from the state last year after more than a decade of spending cuts to higher education and
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tuition increases in minnesota the state increased higher education funding for the last two academic years by 10% including a 15% increase in need-based state grants. this much-needed funding has allowed the public universities and colleges in minnesota to hold their tuition steady instead of passing on higher costs to minnesota students. this has been a significant victory for minnesota students and families, but -- but -- students are still facial daunting costs -- still facing do you think the -- still facing daunting costs and graduating with too much debt. in the senate i have been working on a number of solutions to the college affordability problem. i've got two bipartisan bills with senator chuck grassley of iowa that would help students
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and families understand college costs and compare the costs of different colleges as they go through the process of selecting a school. our net price calculator improvement act makes these online tools more user friendly in order to give students and their families a better estimate of college costs before they decide where to apply to college. senator grassley and i have another bill that will require schools to use a universal financial aid letter. right now these letters are incredibly confusing. they don't clearly -- they often don't clearly indicate what's a grant and what's a loan. a lot of people -- they say award letters on them sometimes and they include loans. a lot of people don't consider a loan an award. and they use just different terminology. if you get a stafford subsidized
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loan in one letter, it might say stafford subsidized loan, this amount. and another it might have a code number or an x5382. when we put out this bill, i got all kinds of calls from college counselors high school counselors saying thank you. our bill would make sure that students and their families and their counselors get clear and uniform information so they can make apples-to-apples comparisons between what the different schools are offering. another part of problem college affordability problem which is often overlooked is the price of textbooks. students in minnesota are spending an average of $1,400 per year on textbooks $200 more than the national average. one minnesotan i've heard from
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kerry cooper, had to choose between paying for her textbooks and paying for her rent and she ends up putting her textbook cost on her credit card. i introduced a bill with senator dick durbin of illinois called the affordable college textbook act that would address this problem. our bill would expand the use of free online, open-source college textbooks, which are really a great alternative to the traditional expensive kind. and this is a great way to reduce the overall cost of going to college. college students like kerry and joelle and countless others are working incredibly hard when they are still taking on significant amounts of debt. and part of the reason that this debt will stay with them for a good portion of their lives is that they are paying such high interest rates. many college graduates are
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locked into loans with interest rates as high as 10% which makes it all the more difficult to pay off your student loan. the last they think our students need is to be saddled with high interest rates on student loans that continue to burden them long after graduation. and there is a clear commonsense solution here, and that solution is contained in the bill that i'm proud to have joined senator warren in introducing. the bank on students emergency loan refinancing act. students and graduates should be able to take advantage of lower interest rates and refinance their loans. when interest rates are low homeowners businesses, and even local governments regularly refinance their debts. yet, despite being the biggest student lender by far the
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federal government offers no refinancing option to student borrowers. once you graduate, if you have a high interest rate on your student loans you're stuck with that high interest rate forever. that's just not right for our students and families, and it's damaging for the long-term well-being of our country. because it holds people back from making decisions that help drive economic growth, the decision to buy a home, to start a family, to start a new business to purchase big-ticket items like a car. our new bill would allow students and graduates who have existing private and public student loan debt from their undergraduate education to refinance these loans at less than 4%. last summer we came together in congress to prevent the interest rate on new student loans from
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doubling. thanks to that effort, undergraduate students taking out new loans now have a rate of 3.86%. well the bill we introduced yesterday would enable students and graduates who are saddled with higher interest rates on their undergraduate loans to refinance at the same 3.86% rate. there are nearly 40 million americans with outstanding student loans and many of them face interest rates higher than 3.86%. some of them much, much higher. this legislation will give them a chance to cut down their debt and keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. it will help thousands of students in minnesota who like joelle and kerry are doing everything they can to get their college degree.
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so many minnesotans in schools across the state show tremendous perseverance and grit in getting a college education and in cobbling together the resources to pay for it. they should not end up with crushing debt and be unable to take advantage of lower interest rates to reduce that debt when so many other kinds of debt, almost every other kind of debt you're able to refinance. mr. president, we have a lot to do and a long way to go to reduce student debt for our students and make college more affordable. doing that will help more americans find jobs to support their families, help more employers find qualified workers for their businesses, and help our economy prosper. passing this bill would be one important step that we can and that we should take.
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thank you mr. president and i yield the floor. mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president i applaud the efforts of senator franken and senators durbin and warren and jack reed, who will speak after me, for their efforts on dealing with the terrible burden of debt that far too many young people in this country face. we know that it's bad for them. we know this burden is bad for their families. families in many cases mothers and fathers cosign these loans and have to put off other kinds of things that they want to and should do in their lives. we know what it means to those families and to the economy and those communities where these students come out of college with huge debt and they can't buy a car or they can't buy a home. they can't start a business. in many cases they put off getting married and starting a
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family because of debt. none of this is good. i think mr. president look at the -- think back a generation. i heard senator klobuchar speak today on the floor. she went to a what we consider in this country an exclusive very expensive university. she scrounged together her teacher/mother, her father. i was in the presiding chair as she was speaking. her father is a reporter, journalist columnist as my wife is, and didn't make a lot of money. it was difficult to come up with the tuition room and board for amy klobuchar young 18-year-old student then. but they were able to do it. i look back at my wife who graduated from college 30-plus years ago the daughter of a maintenance worker at a power plant, union member, 35 years in the union. she is the oldest of four. her parents absolutely had a commitment to send her to college but couldn't really afford it. her mother took a job as a home
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care worker after connie was -- as connie was approaching college age. she is the oldest. she went tpo a -- she went to a state university, kent state university, one of the finest state universities in our state. she graduated in 1979 with only about $1,200 in student lone debt. she worked part of that time but schools were so much less then. at state universities and colleges now it is so far out of reach for so many families. and the students' approach that day and have these discussions with their parents it's important to try to think through how these students who don't necessarily have a lot of sophistication yet in finances, how they look at this. in a recent study found that two-thirds of student lone borrowers were not aware of the
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difference between federal student loans and risky or high-interest private student loans. they go into this not necessarily always with eyes wide open. they're idealistic, they are enthusiastic about going off to school. they want to get ahead. they don't want to put too big a burden on their parents or obviously on themselves. but they're not, according to the study most are not aware of the difference between federal student loans or these higher interest private student loans.t many students take out private student loans even though they are eligible for the federal student loans. we can't expect students to have a fair shot at building a successful shot. that's why the no before you owe act is so important. the bill would require private student loan lenders to clearly state the difference between the students cost of attending college and the students estimated financial assistance. they should be taking full advantage of any financial
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federal aid packages. they should qualify before taking on any private student loan debt, although they so often don't know that because this stuff's complicated. second our bill would provide loan statements to borrowers and their families at least once every three months so they can understand what they're getting into. also it would require private student loan lenders to submit an annual report to the consumer financial protection bureau about student loans. we know private student loans typically have significantly higher interest rates. they offer limited -- more limited payroll options. payment options excuse me. they offer no relief for graduates who are under paid, who have been laid off or are unable to find work. that's why the my refinancing education funding to invest for the future or refi act addresses this problem by authorizing the treasury department to make the private student loan market more efficient. it would allow borrowers to refinance their costly private loans into more affordable loans at no cost to taxpayers. now the -- and now the bank on
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students' emergency loan refinancing act would allow homeowners to refinance and lock in lower federal interest rates. this will give all of these -- all of these pieces of legislation will give students a fair shot at the american dream of going to school, whether they choose to go to lorain or cincinnati state community college, whether they want to go to otterbein a private school in ohio or dennison or oberlin or a larger state university like ohio state or u.c.-toledo or youngstown state. this would allow those with private student loans into the federal program saving hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars by switching to the lower federal interest rates. mr. president, i think we all -- i know you hear it from your connecticut constituents, senator reid hears it from rhode island. we all hear from people in our states pleading for help. let me share a couple of them. then i will turn the floor over to senator reed.
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kelly macvicar, a father of three in toledo. i spoke with him on the phone. then i talked with him at an event we did at berriesburg high school a suburb of toledo, an affluent suburb but still a place where students struggle with federal -- with student loans and student debt. when kelly was 17, took out a $48,000 student loan to get his degree. today he is 31, working to pay down that original loan. now grown to $73,000 while also trying to support his family. took out a $48,000 loan. he has been working he has been going to school, he has been doing what people and what the society asks of him yet he is now saddled with a $73,000 debt. andrea from the same part of the state, the northeast corner of ohio. andrea from williams county wrote to me saying i have been repaying my student loan religiousesly for 14 years -- religiously for 14 years. i feel as though my payment never goes down. my interest rate is 7.75%. when i call my lender, they have
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no offer to lower the rate. i find it hard to believe when my mortgage is 3.25% and so is my auto loan, i can even get a credit card with zero percent interest i would be better off defaulting and letting the companies take care of it. i am married with three children. at this rate, i will still be paying off school loans when my oldest goes to college. i didn't have the luxury of having financial help from my parents. i'm trying not to let that happen to my own children. higher education is important for my husband and me. to a middle-class family, there doesn't seem to be much help. i am frustrated. it seems to me i am in debt with student loans. i don't want the same for my children. these are -- all of these pleas whether they come from -- from providence or whether they come from cleveland all of these pleas are from people who want to do the right thing. they want to get out from under these loans but they want to pay them. they want to pay them back. they just want an interest rate that's more competitive. when they see what their home mortgage rates are.
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andrea from williams county, her interest rates -- her home mortgage are less than half of what she is paying for student loans. why should that be? in these pleas we need to respond to these begs for help from so many of our constituents of all ages of both genders all across our states and communities and small towns and big cities and rural areas. across the country, there are responsible borrowers who have played by the rules still find themselves coming up short. unless we act, we will have a generation of americans who are unable to build a life for themselves because they are at a nonstop cycle of dealing with costly loan repayment. it's important mr. president. we had the opportunity here by passing these bills we had the opportunity to give americans the fair shot they need. in paying off their loans of going to school, of getting ahead, of starting businesses and starting families and buying homes and getting this economy back on track. we could do this. it's important we start today. mr. president, i yield the
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floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president first let me commend my colleagues, senator franken and senator brown, for their leadership and their very wise comments on this issue which is the most difficult one that young americans face, and that is paying for college and student loans. as my colleagues have indicated this is just the tip of the iceberg because these debts that are -- they have accumulated prevent them from buying homes from starting families and ultimately it affects our economy in a tremendously disruptive way. and so all of this is coming into very sharp focus as we begin the graduation season. we have high school seniors who have -- are choosing a college to attend. we have college graduates who are leaving and facing a very
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difficult job market. those who are going to college are looking at huge potential debts. those that are leaving college already have in most cases debt and are now thinking about how they can deal with them as they go forward. outstanding student loan debt today is an estimated $1.2 trillion, and it is growing. according to the institute for college access and success between 2008 and 2012, average student loan debt increased by an average of 6% per year. much much faster than the rate of inflation. so we have an issue that is just not only critical today it's getting worse each and every day. 70% of the class of 2012 graduated with student loans and average student debt was $29,400. that's a lot of money. with that debt and with a job
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that's paying modest wages or in many cases sort of not being able to find such a job that's very difficult to address those debts. i just met with the presidents of all my colleges and universities in rhode island and we talked about the urgency of this issue. rhode island ranked fifth in the nation for average debt with graduates owing an average of more than $31,000 when they graduate from college. we're fifth in the nation. we're also, i might point out regretfully, first in the nation in unemployment. so you have the classic situation of rhode island graduates leaving with $31,000 of debt and struggling in the toughest job market in the united states to find work, and that is a very difficult combination to bear, and that's with so many of our young people not just in rhode island but in rhode island and minnesota and across this country are facing. this debt is a huge drag on our economy. it's a threat to our future.
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we have to take action. we just can't sit back and watch this get worse each day as it is. first we must commit to lowering costs for low and middle income families. the pell grant is the foundation for making college affordable. it is the work of my distinguished predecessor senator claiborne pell, who understood that if you could make college affordable for average americans they could remake this country and the world. and for decades we did that. we provided the kinds of resources in terms of grants that would allow talented but not wealthy students to go to school to leave school without huge debts and to begin immediately to apply their talents to the issues that confront this country and this world. in fact, i would argue that his foresight back in the 1960's set the stage for all these great sort of revolutions.
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why do we have a telecommunications revolution? because we had not only the educated scientists and engineers to develop to -- transistors to develop all these new technologies we had the most educated population in the world to use them. that was building on the g.i. bill in the 1940's with the pell grant in the 1960's to make college affordable, accessible to the widest section of americans. that has been really the engine that has driven our growth and our economic progress over many decades, and that engine is sputtering right now because of the debt that is being put on these students, because the cost of college is going up. we certainly have to reject the proposals of the house by some of my republican colleagues that would roll back investment of the pell grant. we have to do more to make the
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pell grant accessible to more citizens more americans. second, we have to tackle this student loan debt crisis. the federal government should not be generating payments. instead, we should be offering lower rates. that is why i introduced the responsible student loan solution act to set interest rates to cover our costs and nothing more and allow for refinancing of loans that are at high fixed rates. i was pleased to work with senator warner of massachusetts -- warren of massachusetts on a bill that would enable student loan borrow ers under a bipartisan student loan certainty act last year. we also have to hold loan services accountable for treating borrowers fairly. students must get accurate and clear information about their repayment options and that is why senator drowrn's borrower bill of rights is so critically
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important. i am proud that he shared this on the floor and very proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation. third, states and colleges and universities have to step up. they have to do more to provide the resources to provide the efficiencies so that we can make college more affordable to all of our citizens. i have introduced the partnership for affordability and student success act to reinvigorate the federal-state partnership for higher education with an emphasis on need-based grant aid. one of the problems we have, frankly, is that in the 1960's if we looked at the pell grant it would cover about roughly 80% of tuition. now it covers about 20% of tuition for those that can get the grant. if we could go back to those times where you could basically get if you were a low-income, deserving student a grant we wouldn't have such a crisis in student debt. and so we have to, i think make
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grant aid more accessible, and that requires a state-federal-university college partnership. a recent report indicates the american education research association found that grant aid increased the likelihood of graduation for low-income students while unsubsidized student loans result n.a.d. decrease in graduation rates. so if we're worried about graduating young people from college, one thing we can do is take the worry of debt off their shoulders, take the uncertainty of trying to put together, cobble together financing for education by giving them the grants that used to be something we thought were, you know, part and parcel of the american dream. we also know that one of the main reasons tuition has skyrocketed is that state appropriations for higher education have declined. according to the state higher education finance report, state
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spending for full-time students reached its lowest point in 25 years in 2011, and the states do have to put more into their state university and college assistance and i say that knowing full well the challenges that they face, some of which are the result of policies and guidance that we have given them. but if the state is not willing to put more resources in, it ultimately is shifted onto the shoulders of students and ultimately there is only so much weight they can bear. states have to reinvest in our education, and we can help give them incentive to do that rather than disincentives. now, i hope my legislation will do that. finally, colleges and universities must take greater responsibility for affordability and student loan debt. this is not something that's beyond their prerogatives. they are not helpless in this. they have to not only advise students on the best course of
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action. in fact, in my view, colleges, public private for-profit, nonprofit, should be fiduciary schools. they should operate in the best interests of students, not the best interests of their bottom line not to make up for lost state contributions not to sign up for esoteric deals with financial companies so -- because they get a huge payment back in return. just as in the classroom, they should be trying to give these students the best education in the financial aid office, they should be giving them the best deal possible on paying for their college. so to ensure that, to basically make sure that all of these institutions have some, as they say, skin in the game, i introduced the protect student borrowers act with senators durbin and warren. i must say, this is also the result of some hard lessons whreernedwelearned in the financial
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crisis. if institutions don't have an interest in the loans they're making, in fact they're encouraging people to take loans they can't afford, disasters is just days, months, weeks away -- it's coming. we want them to be more responsible. so we would ask them as a percentage of their students who default rises that these institutions start sharing some of the risk, that they start being conscious of the arrangements they're giving, the rates they're charge, the courses that they're offering. they have a vested interest in their students succeeding, not getting as much money as possible. i know there are other colleagues on the floor. i have more to say about this, but we have great work to be done here. this is about a fair shot for all of our students and all of our families. and working with senator warren and senator durbin and my other colleagues, we're going to try to make a difference for students across this land.
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with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i want to thank my cheeg from rhode island, senator reed. senator elizabeth warren, our new colleague from massachusettsings and senator reed and i have started this effort but we are welcoming ideas and supporters from both sides of the aisle to join us. the conversation tonight on the floor of the united states senate may be the most important conversation that millions of american families could hear because we're talking about student debt. student debt in this country has reached the breaking point. it's reached the point where the cover of "time" magazine would have a question mark. it shows a student headed off to college and the question mark is, is it worth it? it has reached the point that the cost of higher education is so high, the indebtedness adebt associated with it so high, that
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many are stepping back now is ask that very question. is it worth it to go this deeply in debt for college courses an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree or more? that question would have been unthinkable in my day unthinkable. if there was one driving idea in my mind from my mother and father, it was stay in school, go to college do the best you can, and don't quit, keep working at it. and thank goodness for me -- thank goodness for me the soviet decided to launch sputnik. that was the biggest break i ever got in my life, and i didn't even realize it. it was october 1957. they launched this basketball-sized satellite that circled the globe. we didn't have any rockets or satellites at the time. and this satellite, as it circled the globe let off this beep and signaled that it was out there.
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you couldn't hear that beep on the earth with ordinary, you know powers of individuals. some scientists could pick up that significant income tax but they heard that beep ---- --some scientists could pick up that signal, but they heard that beep. we knew russia had the bomb and now they had satellites. we did a lot of things. we started preparing our department of defense. get ready, something may be coming our way. and then something happened which was nothing short of amaze amazing. somebody said, if we're going to beat the russians, if we're going to beat the soviets, we're going to need and awful lot of educated people, and they came up with an idea. it was the first time in history that the federal government had ever conceived of an idea of loaning money to college students to go to school unless you were a veteran with the g.i. bill -- you didn't have to be a veteran. they would loan money to students to go to college and
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call it the national defense education act. sounds right doesn't it? we're going to defend america we need education. so we will loan money to students all across america to go to college. and when it did was completely destroy the stereotypes of colleges and universities, which used to be for the very, very brightest and the sons and daughters a of graduates. then in the 1960's, after the national defense education act ducation was democratictized and a young high school student from east st. louis, illinois, walked into the admissions office at georgetown university and went to school with a national defense education act loan from my federal government. i didn't borrow much money because it didn't cost much money. it seemed like a lot at the time. and the deal was you borrowed it and then in the ten years after you graduated -- you got onegot aone-year grace period -- you pay it off with 3% interest.
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did i know whether that was a good idea to go in debt for college? i didn't. other than the fact that i had been told over and over and over again the best thing you can do with your life is to go to college. fast-forward 50 years. fast-forward from that experience in my youth to today. now imagine that same student with the same motivation for college is sitting in that admissions office and instead of being told that they may have to borrow $500 or $1,000, they are told they may have to borrow $20,000 to go to school one year. now imagine you are a 19 years old making a decision about $20,000 in debt. how in the world could you you make that decision in you're still motivated, you want that college education, and you basically say, i'll sign up. classes start next week. if you sign these papers, you'll be in there. if you don't sign, you won't be.
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students are signing up. now all across america the indebtedness is building up to record levels, more student loan debt in america than credit card debt in america. and tragic stories that are emerging from them, stories of students deeply in debt, dropping out of school with no degree stories of students deep any debt finishing school, unable to find a job; stories of students deep any debt going to semiworthless for-profit schools with diplomas not worth the paper they're written on. and what happens at the end of the day? the debt of these students is not like any other debt. luckily, we have -- as my colleague from the senate, senator elizabeth warren, who once taught the bankruptcy course at harvard law school and she can help correct me if i'm wrong -- at least fill in
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some blanks for me here. currently, if you declare bankruptcy in america today there are some debts that you cannot discharge. i am 0 going to try to remember a few of them. you cannot discharge taxes owed to the government. you still have to pay that. you cannot discharge money that you owe forral for alimony and child support, if i am not mistaken. i don't know if there is another category but i'm going to add student loans here. i would yield to my colleague with the permission of the chair. did i get an "a" on that or at least a "b?" all right. so the fourth category is student loans. if you end up in debt with a student loan, it is one of the few loans in your life that you can't discharge in bankruptcy. the money you borrowed for your home yes that's dischargeable. the money you borrowed for your car, yes that's dischargeable. the money you borrowed for a boat yes that's dischargeable. the credit line that you have just for your ordinary expenses,
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yes, that's dischargeable. when you it comes down to student loans, it is a debt you carry to the grave. you either pay it or they will hound you for as long as you live. that's why it's different than other debts. and that's why we came together and said, it is time for us to look at these student loans the amount of debt which students and families are carrying, and do something about it. three bills emerged from this. the first bill i call the student borrow bill of rights, and it says, when you sit down at the that desk at the admissions office, they've got to he will it you what your rights are. they've got to tell you that the government loan that you could use to pay for your education has a lower interest rate, more reasonable terms, can be consolidated at a later point in your life, a limitation on how much money out of pocket you're going to have to pay based on your income, and you might have some forgiveness if you go into some areas like teaching and
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nursing. you've got to be told this. right now students sitting across from that admission admissions officer are being steered into the most expensive, worst loans. soy the bill that i've offered -- the student loan borrower bill of rights -- says tell them the truth tell them the best circumstances for them to borrow money if they need to borrow it. secondly, jack reed of rhode island. his bill basically says that university has a vested interest in making sure that you don't borrow too darn much money. that you don't get so deeply in debt you can never pay it back. that university, if they don't accept that responsibility, could be on the line themselves for some of that ebbet d debt. think they'll take it a little more seriously? you bet they will. that's the reed bill, which i'm cosponsoring. and the third tile bill bill -- i would like to defer to the senator from mass -- is one that i think is really a critical element in this approach to dealing with student loans and student debt,
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and if, through the permission ofchair, i would like to enter into a dialogue with the senator from massachusetts. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i would like to at this point yield to the senator from massachusetts to describe, if you will, for the record your refinancing proposal. ms. warren: so -- the presiding officer: without objection. rein i wantms. warren: i want to thank the senator. it starts with the premise that the federal government, once upon a time, lent money to our students. you remember the ndea loans that went ought at 3%. the federal governments was disubsubsidizing those loans. where we've ended up today is that instead of there we've got students with outstanding student loan debt at 6%, at 7%, at 8%, 9%, and even higher. so this isn't just to cover the cost of the loans. this is double in some cases what it takes triple in some cases what it takes to cover the
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cost of the loans. that means the administrative costs, the bad debt costs the costs of the money borrowing the money. so what we propose is to say last summer congress said, you know, we were looking at new student loans that were coming through. the interest rates were about to double. and congress said, democrats and republicans, the interest rate -- if the interest rate doubles up to 7%, that's too high. so congress said, for all new borrows in 2013, the interest rate would be 3.86% on undergraduate loans 5.41% on graduate loans and 6.41% for plus loans. make no mistake the government still makes money -- not a lot but the government still makes money on those loans. what we propose is to take all of the outstanding student loan
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debt and refinance it at those interest rates exactly the same rates that virtually every republican agreed to last summer many democrats agreed to last summer, and to say we're just going to finance it down. so kids who are trapped in loans at 8%, at 9%, and even higher will be able to get these lower interest rates on their loans. it will save some people hundreds of dollars a year. it will save some thousands of dollars a year. and we propose to pay for that by enacting the buffett rule, closing some tax loopholes on millionaires and billionaires so we can bring down the interest rate for our students. mr. durbin: thank the senator from massachusetts. i see the majority leader on the floor. these three proposals that students being admitted to college be told the truth to their debt and the best way to minimize their debt, that the colleges not loan more money than is reasonable or be on the hook themselves if they do, and
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that students have an opportunity to refinance their student loans would make -- have a dynamic impact on student debt in america today and give working families and students a fair shot at a higher education they can afford without a debt that will cripple them for life. i yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule 22, thursday, may 8 at 11:15 a.m., senate proceed to vote on cloture on calendar numbers 655 the talwani nomination peterson, 657 rose enstengel then the senate proceed to confirmation on -- all postcloture time be considered expired ands at 1:45 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. senate proceed to vote on
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confirmation of the nominations. following disposition of calendar number 657 the senate proceed to vote on calendar number 609 and proceed to consideration of vote on confirmation of calendar number 615 mitchell. and if cloture is invoked on calendar number 690 all postcloture time be considered expired on monday may 12 at 5:30 p.m. the senate proceed to at that time to vote on confirmation of calendar number 690 rosenbaum. further, upon disposition action, the senate proceed to the consideration and vote on confirmation of calendar number 560. further that there be two minutes for debate on each vote equally divided in the usual form, that be any roll call votes following the first in series be ten minutes in length. further that if confirmed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nominations, any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action,
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the senate then resume legislative. i said may 18. it's may 8. i'm glad my crack staff picked that up so that not withstanding rule 22 on thursday, may 8 2014 11:15. that's what i'd like the consent request to reflect that. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president with this agreement on tomorrow there will be about four roll call votes in the morning beginning at 11:15 and as many as five roll call votes beginning at 1:45 tomorrow afternoon. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you. i want to briefly join my colleagues here in support of
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the effort be led by senator durbin warren, reed, harkin. they have done incredible work on behalf of students around the country. one of the most amazing statistics is a simple one. not so long ago the united states was number one in the world when it came to the number of young people who have college degrees. we have precipitously fell from number 1 to number 12. that is due to the fact that other countries have caught up which is an issue in and of itself but it also has something to do with the fact that the cost of college has become calamitous for students all across this country and it is just taking kids a lot longer to complete their degrees many of which are starting and never even finishing. i am an example of the squeeze that american families are in. i don't complain about the income that me and my wife make, but we are both paying back our student loaned and we are saving for our kids' student loans. so i know the amount of a
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family's income that can be gobbled up trying to pay back prior college and save for future college and i know where that money would go if it wasn't going to pay for those two costs. for us, that money would go into the local economy. and so this is the middle-class issue of our generation, as my colleague, senator schatz often says because it is not just about the families that are trying to pay back college and save for college. it's also about all of the places that that money could go if it wasn't going to the banks and the federal government who are making a pretty profit off of this system as it is. finally, mr. president i just wanted to make a pitch for a piece of legislation that senator schatz, myself, senators murray and sanders have introduced because i think we've got two conversations to be had. one is about making sure that we reduce the financial burden for families. but there's also a conversation we need to have about actually putting pressure on schools to reduce the ticket price the
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sticker price of attending college. and we, frankly haven't done a very good job of leveraging the $140 billion that we spend on financial aid every year to pressure colleges to do the right thing. there's one for-profit college in california that takes in $1.6 billion every year of taxpayer dollars, and the average student there spends only three months on campus because they start school and never finish it. their loan default rates are above 30%. that's a terrible investment for those kids, but also for the federal taxpayers' dollar. and so our piece of legislation which we hope will be considered in the broader reauthorization of higher education statutes in this country would really say it's time that we hold colleges to a different standard, force them to get serious about costs force them to get serious about quality. that in the end will be just as helpful, keeping control of quality and costs at our colleges as the effort that's
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being led by so many of my colleagues on the floor here tonight. so i'm very glad to join in this effort. it's a personal cause for me and my family given that we are living this reality today but one that is a much greater imperative for all of the families that have been struggling with this burden across the state that the presiding officer and i represent. with that, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i'm going to be very brief because i know that you, mr. president have to be out of here as a certain time, as do i as did senator murphy. so i'll come back tomorrow and speak at great length, or greater length anyway. let's hope it's not too great. i just wanted to say this, mr. president. one of the things that america knows is that college is becoming more of a necessity and it's getting to be priced like more of a luxury. we can't have that. when college is a ticket to
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success -- not just income success but even recent surveys show longevity happiness -- it's a shame it's a crying shame when any american deserves to go to college but doesn't go or doesn't go to the right college because he or she can't afford it. we aim to change that in a variety of ways. but the one that senator warren has talked about and taken the lead on is in terms of refinancing. it is absolutely outrageous that students who have just gotten out of college in the last 5 10 15, 20 years even are paying up to 8%, up to 13% in interest when if you took out a loan today you'd pay it at 3% or 4%. that puts huge burdens on their shoulders in their prime earning years, in their family-forming years. it crimps the housing market
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because if you have $30,000 of student loans you're not likely to take a $100,000 mortgage. and so all we're asking for is a fair shot. if you deserve to go to college you should have a fair shot at affording college. and if you've gone to college you should have a fair shot at being able to pay your debts and live a decent life. very simple. we democrats are focusing our attention on what the average american needs. giving the average american a fair shot. and there's probably no place where that fair shot is less attainable than in college affordability and in acquired student loan debt. so i hope people will listen to us in the next several weeks. i hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will unlike on minimum wage or equal pay, join us in coming up with a bipartisan proposal. and i hope we can do something
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for these students, those who have already gone to college and are paying disproportionate interest and those who are going to college and need to afford it. everyone deserves a fair shot in america. and you certainly deserve a fair shot if you have earned a place in college to afford that place in college. with that, mr. president i yield the floor and look forward to continuing this discussion and debate in the next several months -- in the next several weeks to come. i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you mr. president. i want to commend the senator from new york and all of my colleagues who have been here. mr. president, 40 million borrowers in this country have student loan debt. 40 million. student loan debt is exploding and it threatens the financial stability of our young people and the financial stability of this country.
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i am pleased to see so many of my colleagues here tonight talking about this problem because make no mistake, this is an emergency. outstanding student loans now total more than $1.2 trillion and millions of young people are struggling to keep up with their payments. it doesn't have to be this way. congress set artificially high interest rates on old student loans that generate extra money for the government. the g.a.o. recently projected that the government will bring in $66 billion in on just the slice of student loans issued between 2007 and 2012. those are the kinds of profits that would make a fortune 500 c.e.o. proud. these young people didn't go to the mall and run up charges on a credit card. they worked hard, they learned new skills that will benefit this country and help us build a
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stronger america. they deserve a fair shot at an affordable education. and we can give them immediate relief by cutting the interest rate on existing student loans. we should cut those interest rates and cut those government profits. yesterday i joined with 27 of my colleagues to introduce the bank on students emergency loan refinancing act, which will do just that. the idea is simple. with interest rates near historic lows, businesses, homeowners and even local governments have refinanced their debts. but a graduate who took out an unsubsidized loan before july 1 of last year is locked intoe of nearly 7%. older loans run 8%, 9% and even higher. we need to bring those rates down and we need to do it now. bank on students would allow student loan borrowers the
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opportunity to lower their interest rates on old loans to match the rates that the government offers to new borrowers. 3.87% on undergraduate loans. 5.41% for graduate loans. and 6.41% for plus loans. i want to be clear these rates are still higher than what it costs the government to run its student loan program. our work will not be done until we have eliminated all of the federal profits on these loans. but this legislation is an important step in that direction. and it's a step that both republicans and democrats should support. last year nearly every republican in congress, in the house and the senate, voted for the exact same loan rates that are in this legislation. if republicans believe that 3.86% is good enough for new undergraduate borrowers then it
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should be good enough for all existing undergraduate borrowers. there is no reason on earth to say some kids can get a better deal than others when they all worked hard to do exactly what we wanted them to do. get an education. this legislation won't add a single dime to our deficit. the bank on students legislation adopts the buffett rule, which limits tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires. every dollar we bring in as a result of that change will go directly to supporting lower interest rates on existing student loans. now we only introduced this bill yesterday, but we're already getting a great response. think tanks like demos student groups like young invincibles. teachers group like the american federation of teacher and the national education association have all come forward and endorsed this proposal.
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letters and e-mails and phone calls are already pouring in. i'm also encouraged by the fact that some republicans have also come forward to say that they are open to considering a refinancing proposal. now, i want to be clear, this should not be a partisan issue. i'm eager to work with any of my colleagues who believe that we need to do something about the growing student debt crisis. if the republicans have issues with this proposal, if they want to suggest different offsets or policy changes, they should bring their ideas forward. what we can't do is continue to ignore this problem and hope that it will go away on its own. congress made this mess by setting artificially high interest rates that are crushing our kids. it is congress's responsibility to clean it up. i don't kid myself. refinancing will not fix everything that's broken in the
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higher education system, but the need for comprehensive reform must not blind us to the urgency of addressing the massive debt that's already crushing our young people. this is personal for me. i grew up in an america that made it a priority to invest in its young people, and the opportunity to go to college an affordable college and affordable loans opened a million d i will keep fighting to make sure that every kid who works hard and plays by the rules gets a fair shot. thank you mr. president. i yield to my colleagues. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you mr. president. i am tremendously honored to follow my colleague from massachusetts, senator warren, who has so zealously and
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thoughtfully developed a program that deals with the breaking calamitous burden of student dead that affects so many of -- student debt that affects so many of our young people he across this country including my state of connecticut. and i want to thank her for her great work. about that issue following the very eloquent remarks of my colleague, senators durbin, reed brown as well as schumer and senator warren to be followed by senator baldwin but i want to first take a moment or two to express my deepest condolences for the family of laurie gilatti, who was shot and killed today in oxford, connecticut. this tragedy is not only saddening but shocking because laurie is dead and her mother is seriously wounded in very dire condition because they were shot
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by her estranged husband under -- who was under an ex parte restraining order from a judge and who is suspected and all we have right now are allegations of committing this atrocious crime. my heart goes out to their family and to their children. she left two children behind. there will be time to talk about the lessons we can learn from domestic violence like this shocking incident. in her application for the restraining order she described a violent at occasion with her estranged husband that made her -- quote -- afraid for her kids and herself. she was granted an ex parte order but it was only temporary. a hearing to consider a permanent restraining order was scheduled to take place literal
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ly tomorrow. connecticut law prohibits anybody who is the subject of a full one-year restraining order from possessing a firearm. and federal law has applications as well to individuals under a permanent restraining order but this prohibition does not extend under connecticut law to an individual subject to an ex parte order. i recently met with representative gabby giffords to discuss the nexus and close connection between issues of domestic violence and gun violence and together with my colleague, senators murphy and durbin we discussed this problem and potential remedy. in this calendar year alone mr. president, five other homicides have taken place stemming from intimate partner violence in connecticut alone. so the issue of temporary restraining orders is an even
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more acute aspect of this problem. according to the domestic violence intervention program women in abusive relationships are 70 times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner in the two weeks after leaving the relationship than at any other time. we ought to do more, much more to protect victims of domestic violence during this extremely vulnerable time, indeed the time when they are most vulnerable. and while we will have time in the future to discuss this tragedy, right now my heart my prayers and my family's thoughts go out to mary jackson laurie's mom, as well as laurie's two children all of her family, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. i would like to proceed if there
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is no objection with separately marked remarks on the student debt and loan issue and i will be brief because i know we are late and i too will hopefully follow tomorrow with more extensive comments. there have been some very remarkable and eloquent remarks and stories personal stories about the meaning of college education. you know, my dad came to this country in 1935 at the age of 17 without even a high school degree. never had one. he spoke very little or no english, had virtually nothing more than the shirt on his back and he knew no one and throughout his life, one of his highest aspirations was for his children my brother and me, to have a college education. he valued it almost more than
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anything else that he could hope for us to have. it was part of his dream. and for him and countless immigrants and countless working men and women born in this country, for decades college education has been part of the american dream part of the fair shot that every american should have at economic opportunity and self-fulfillment and developing their full potential because that's what education helps us to do. and that's why americans are going into debt at unprecedented levels because they believe in that american dream and the fair shot that it gives people to opportunity in this greatest nation in the history of the world. it is part of our d.n.a. as
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americans that we aspire to education and fulfilling all of our potential which benefits not only us but the whole country and all of our society. and so this average level of debt in connecticut it's about $27,000 is calamitously bad not only for those individuals but also for our nation. for the individuals it means that financially crippling burden stops them from marrying at the time they wish, having children when they might like, starting businesses, buying homes, moving forward with their lives. who can start a small business with tens of thousands of debt? risk taking is constrained and
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straitjacketed. people's personal lives are affected and changed forever. student debt today as you have heard repeatedly, totals about $1.2 trillion in this country and what we are doing in this proposal by providing a fair shot to those folks who have debt now and those who will incur it for the future is simply enabling them to do what people are able to do with other kinds of debt, whether it's their homes or their cars, refinance it so they get the benefit of lower interest rates so they avoid that financially crippling burden saddling them for life, so that they are able to buy homes start families and begin businesses in ways that
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benefit them and everyone in our society. and there is another dark side of this conversation which is that right now the american government profits off the backs of students who have incurred debt and all who are beginning those lives of debt right now. in fact, the united states profits from these loans even at 3.86%. so the stark crass fact of the matter is that even with this relief that we are suggesting and proposing and advocating be given to these students who have debt now graduates who are out there with debts at a 8%, 10% some 11% or 12% interest rate,
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the united states government will still make money from those loans. less money but those loans are still profit making. we should regard higher education as an investment in the future, not a revenue source or profit center. we should regard students as an investment a personnel investment a human resources investment to put it, again in crass business terms, that will pay off for years. not as immediate profit centers. that kind of wise investment looks beyond this quarter or next quarter. it looks to the human revenue in quality of life and contributions, in new inventions that will change our lives for the better, in a more productive workplace that will make our
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companies more successful and profitable. i hear from people all around the state of connecticut i got a stirring and moving email today. the presiding officer: the senator's time is expired. mr. blumenthal: and if i may have just three more minutes, i will close. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: bob in naugatuck told me his granddaughter has a student loan he cosigned and he is therefore potentially liable for. dean told me about his master's degree. he is $55,000 in debt, struggling to support his family with his wife. between them, they have four jobs. alise, a mother of three who went back to school when her children were young because she -- quote -- wanted to make sure she had an example to follow. they had an example to follow when they finished high school. she is now $46,000 in debt.
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as much as our economy is recovering these folks are in danger of being left behind, and there are other measures that we should adopt. the uniform forms for college costs that will fully inform people about what debt they are incurring, the pell grant expansion, the bills mentioned for a net price calculator, expanding other forms of grants made but we should take a step forward to provide a fair shot for all americans in this measure that enables refinancing of loans that otherwise will crush our human potential and leave us poorer as a nation. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor to my distinguished colleague from wisconsin. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: thank you. i rise today to speak about a growing crisis in our nation
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that threatens our economy and the future strength of our country. a college education should be a path to the middle class not a path to indebtedness. but today america carries the burden of $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. in my home state of wisconsin almost 70% of the students graduating from four-year institutions will have student loan debt, and the average debt amount will be $28,000. this is real money. this is real money that isn't going into our growing -- into growing our economy at a time when we desperately need economic growth. this is real money that isn't going towards buying a student's or graduate's first car or first
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home. the total amount of student debt in the united states has tripled in the last decade, from $363 billion in the year 2005 to over a trillion dollars today. at the same time, federal financial support for students has not kept up with the need. the pell grant once covered $7 out of every $10. today it covers $3 out of every every $10 in college costs. in addition, many states have scaled back their investments in higher education. the fact is that state investment in higher education has decliend significantly over past decades which has exacerbated the problem particularly as states struggled to balance their budgets in these tough economic times. their investments in students
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have decreased meaning higher tuition, fewer grants and fewer scholarships. i heard from wisconsin students that the cost of a higher education in my state puts college out of reach for too many. 30 years ago undergraduate tuition at the university of wisconsin madison campus was about a thousand dollars. today it's well over $8,000. and it's not just my home state of wisconsin. across the country tuition at public four-year colleges has tripled. this all means that more students are borrowing through federal student loan programs to cover the high cost of a higher education. for students in the university of wisconsin system, unmet need after grants and scholarships is over $9,000, nearly doubling in the last decade, yet the federal government limits on subsidized
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loans have remained relatively stagnant over those same 30 years. in many cases the limits on what a student can borrow through the stafford loan program means their loans will not even cover the cost of the tuition, let alone other significant college expenses. the promise of a higher education has instead become a burden that has fallen squarely on the shoulders of students and their families. today, reflecting the trend of shifting costs onto students, 44% of college operating spents spent expenses are paid through tuition. 43 states are spending less than higher education than they did before the great depression. wisconsin senior senator seen a 20% decline in state spending on higher education since 2008
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while in-state tuition has increased by almost 6% over the same time period. it wasn't always this way. and we seem to have lost touch with the american idea of building a path to the middle class by making a strong investment in higher education in giving americans a fair shot at upward mobility. in 1944, starting with the compact to returning soldiers from world war i made through the g.i. bill, our nation made a commitment to future progress by investing in education. between 1944 and 1951, 8 million veterans received education benefits including many former distinguished members of this body. in 1958, president dwight eisenhower, a republican, signed
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the national defense education act providing loans for college students and funds to encourage young people to enter teaching careers. the precursor to our current program for student loans. president lyndon johnson built upon this legacy. a cornerstone of the great society was path to the middle class through a higher ceasmtion the higher education act of 1965 gave us the federal student loan program known today as the stafford loan program and the equal opportunity grant program today known as the pell grant program. this generation of americans and lawmakers lived in trying times. yet they still had the foresight to make the hard choices, the choices necessary to invest in the future, in our future. throughout our nation's history the federal government has made
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major investments in expanding access to higher education for all people willing to work hard to pursue their dreams. unfortunately, in recent years we have neglected that proud legacy. recently congress lowered interest rates for new borrowers but not for those borrowers who are stuck paying back old loans with much higher interest rates. be that he public or private u further, for those who are in true financial distress, congress has made discharging loans in bankruptcy nearly impossible, first by eliminating this option for federal loans in 1995 and then for private loans as well in 2005. tonight we are giving a voice to the debt crisis that faces millions of american families and students. tonight we are giving voice to a number of solutions that can
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address this crisis, if we work across party lines. i believe that congress must take action, and that is why i was proud to join my fellow freshman and colleague senator warren as a cosponsor in support of the bank on students emergency loan refinancing act. this legislation would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at lower rates currently offered to new borrowers. it's simple. it's paid for by making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes to give our students a fair shot at a bright future, and it will help strengthen the economic security of american families who are struggling with this debt. i believe that making college affordable is one of the most
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important steps that we can take toward rebuilding our middle class and breathing new life into the american dream. i want to live in an america where everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead. i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: mr. president tans honor to stand here with the chorus of my colleagues speaking about an issue that goes to the core of this idea, that every generation will do better than the one before. it is this idea thew in this nation we should lead globally in enriching the lives of our citizenry. you and i talk add few seconds asmght you said you were going home after this to put your kids to bed. i hope you don't mind me sharing that mr. president. but i know this: that you are going to be teaching your kids the same thing that my parents taught me. work hard, play by the rules so
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you can go to college and try to achieve your dreams. well, the challenge we have in america right now is, i go all over the state of new jersey -- north jersey circumstance south jersey all over from urban towns, suburban towns unilateral rural towns. i hear the same kind of frustrations, the rising cost of tuitions. i see more and more people who try to take on the challenge of mayingpaying for those rising costs and find themselves saddled with debt. the facts i hear, the frustrations the concerns i and the anguish. today the average student graduates cljgraduates college with around $29,000 in loans up from $27,600 in 2011, up from $23,729 in 2010, right now in new jersey in fact 16% of my constituents are carrying student debt. that's over a million new
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jerseyans weighed down by this significant financial obligation. let me put this in perspective because it has a ripple effect in our economy. take, for example our housing house something such an important driver to economic development, an important driver to jobs, owning a home is a dream that many people have in america as well. well, the reduced purchasing power due to high student debt levels is holding back people's ability to help drive our economy forward. the housing industry, which sphil is recovering from a crisis is an example. the national association of realtors cited student loan debt as a primary reason for the decline in housing purchases among first-time buyers. of 20% of fires first-time buyers, 54% -- 54 $beneficiary% say student loans make it tough to save money.
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according to a survey, about half of all the people polled in a survey by the association said student debt was the huge obstacle in buying a home. and according to the federal reserve of new york, from 2009 to 2012, homeownership rate fell twice as much for 30-year-olds who had a history of student loans than it did for those who doovmentdon't. this is a problem that is impacting families, it's stiesmingstifling people's ability to participate and make our economy robust. it is having a challenge towards job groafnlgt it has growth. it has many different layers. but what i want to focus on is my desire to keep america number one. we should be and have been historically when it came to educating our populous top in
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the globe especially at the higher education levels. when we created programs that many of my colleagues have cited -- i heard senator durbin speak to programs that literally took him from a lower middle-class environment to achieving his dreams. accessing college loans a affordable loans to achieve his dreams sms yeted. we created these because we understand that the workforce is essential to economic competitive. in a global knowledge-based economy, it is the knowledge of the people that drive the economy forward. without highly skilled workers america simply won't be able to compete in this new global economy. this has been a wisdom that's been understood for decades for generations. you educate your workforce to the highest levels in the globe your economy leads the globe. well today we're seeing
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challenges and we're seeing this reality change. today the average price of a college degree in the u.s. has climbed to $13,856. dmair with some ofcompare that with some of our exerts. take the u.k., for example. the u. crks the average cost is $5,288. take germany another one of our global competitors. jeer manage students pay a mere $933. those competitive economies understand that they don't want to put barriers to the young people to learn. they want to remove them. the cost of college in america puts our young people at a severe disadvantage compared to their peers around the world. it is not a level playing field. we're asking our kids to compete globally, but we're putting barriers that are unique to this economy. when the cost of college in the u.s. is now more than 51% of the median income in america -- let
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me say that one more time -- the cost of the college in america is now 5 1% of the median income in america. while the cost in germany is just 4.3% of that country's median income. when the u.s. has one of the highest percentages of adults, we are one of the top in the globe for adults 55-64 that generation of americans that had the kind of student loan programs and opportunities that senator durbin talked to, they're at the top. but only 43% of americans ages 25-34 have a degree. that younger group instead of being at the top america now compared to our competitors, has fallen to 16th place globally. in other words older americans that benefited from a rational system of affordable college they're leading 55-64-year-olds
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leading the globe. but the younger we are getting in our country the lower we're falling in our competitiveness with our competitors in terms of the kids that have college degrees. and we wonder why that is. *7's because college affordability has been getting more and more difficult. and so i am encouraged by my colleagues. we should be doing everything to encouraging forthcoming generations to pursue higher education so we don't slide further in global rankings and compromise our long-term ability to compete. that's why i'm standing here right now. that's why i'm proud to cosponsor senator warren's newly introduced legislation, the bank on students emergency loan refinancing act which would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates
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currently offered to new borrowers. simply offering them to refinance loans like you can with a mortgage loan, like you can with other types of loans. this will make us more competitive. i commend a lot of my colleagues who have spoken here. i want to commend senator harkin senator reed, senator gillibrand, who have been so active in calling ateption to this issue. we cannot afford for the cost of obtaining a higher education to incur decades of crushing debt. it's unacceptable. the legislation that we're talking about today seeks to lighten the burden on student borrowers and to put money back in their pocket, to help fuel our economy. but, more importantly to help everyone understand that in this nation, we are still doing everything possible to lead the globe in education. look there's a lot of work to do. my team is trying to focus on
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some issues i saw as mayor. for example when i was mayor we worked with schools and financial aid counselors to help families simply fill out these forms necessary to obtain aid. the college board estimates that 2.3 million -- 2.3 million students do not fill out the free application for financial aid form, better known as the fafsa form, and they don't fill it out because of its complexities. they don't fill it out because of issue knackss that make it difficult to report what's necessary. so many qualified students are skipping this process because they find it complex and burdensome. and not even getting into college, not even affording that pathway to cultivate their genius. so much more can be done. this should be a national call
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to make college as affordable in this generation as it was for past generations. past generations in america led the globe. and drove the top economy on earth because of that education. but now we're raising the wall, shutting out more of our young minds from this pathway because of unaffordable colleges. for individuals a college education translates to more odd job opportunities -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. booker: i'll conclude with this. in a study it was found the u.s. could add $500 billion to the gross domestic product over the next 15 years by increasing the number of workers with postsecondary education by 20 million. more workers a greater economy a more successful america a
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nation that leads the globe. let's do and learn from what our parents and grandparents knew and did in this body and around the nation. let's make college affordable for our citizenry. thank you very much. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you mr. president. here on the senate floor we've been focusing on policies that give americans a fair shot, bills that would help to reverse the growing trend of income inequality and create more opportunities to climb the economic ladder. the idea that if you work hard and you play by the rules that you can do well for your family and you can create a better opportunity for your children and their children. making college more affordable and reducing student loan debt is central to these goals.
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i think it is the middle-class issue of our generation. it is hard to get ahead nowadays without a college degree, but the cost of college is growing faster than the cost of all other consumer goods twice as fast as health care costs. the growing cost of college is preventing some from getting a degree in the first place and leaving others with unmanageable levels of debt. this is the middle-class issue of our time. students have taken on more than $1 trillion in debt to cover the cost of college. student debt is now the fastest-growing and highest consumer debt burden behind mortgages. this debt burden is just not sustainable. saddled with this debt, young adults are delaying starting families buying homes and cars, and starting new businesses. and the rate at which students are failing to repay their loans is alarming. over a third of borrowers --
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excuse me. over a third of borrowers who are in repayment are delinquent on their loans by 90 days or more. a third of borrowers are delinquent. one of my consents took out a loan -- constituents took out a loan to help their son go to college. the loan was for $92,000 in 2006. today they owe $143,000. this local resident says the interest compounds. it's like a loan shark pretty close. there is no way out. no way to pay it. ever. we're hearing these stories far too often from many families in hawaii and across the country. and they need our help. a college education is supposed to be a path to opportunity and the american dream not a life of debt. it is clear that our current system isn't working. the federal government is giving $140 billion a year in financial aid to institutions of higher
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learning in federal grants and loans. that's a good thing not a bad thing. higher education is the straightest line for us to develop the workforce we need and for people to move up the economic ladder. but with that $140 billion, we should be making college more affordable for students. instead we're getting the opposite result for the $140 billion. average pell grant awards have increased by almost 20% in the past ten years. in that same time period, pell grants covered 20% less than the average public schools tuition and fees. we're paying more and we're getting less. there's a growing gap between the financial aid that is available to students and the cost of college. to fill that gap students are loading up on debt. last summer congress passed a bipartisan student loan compromise that lowered the student lone interest rate for new borrowers, but millions of student borrowers were left out of that deal and are paying much
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higher rates. i'm proud to join senator warren to introduce the bank on students emergency loan refinancing act today. this bill will allow students with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the same lower interest rates offered to new borrowers under the bipartisan student lone compromise. that's fair. students struggling with student debt deserve to get the same deal that congress is giving to new borrowers. when we talk about making colleges more affordable, we need to remember that lowering student loan interest rates is only part of the problem. it's not just the interest. it's the principal. we need a bold, long-term plan to bring down the cost of college. that's why i introduced the college affordability and innovation act with senators chris murphy, patty murray and bernie sanders. the bill is about holding schools accountable to taxpayers and students. we want to reward those schools
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that are focused on affordability and give incentives for the rest to make affordability part of their mission. if you're a -- in college you can have whatever admission that you want but you have no special right to federal funding. our bill says very simply if you receive federal dollars, part of remission must be about affordability and access. there are potentially billions of dollars that are not being used wisely. as we invest in higher education -- and we should -- through student loan subsidies and federal financial aid, we should make sure that schools are actually fulfilling our federal public policy goals of making college more affordable and more accessible for all students. let's work together to make sure that a college education is a path of opportunity for all students and not a life of debt.
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mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on judiciary be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 3627 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 3627, an act to require the attorney general to report on state law penalties for certain child abusers and for other purposes. mr. schatz: i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. schatz: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: mr. president i understand that there are two bills at the desk, and i ask for their reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bills for the first time. the clerk: h.r. 2824, an act
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to amend the surface mining control and reclamation act of 1977 and so forth and for other purposes. h.r. 3826, an act to provide direction to the administrator of the environmental protection agency, and so forth and for other purposes. mr. schatz: i now ask for a second reading and i object to my own request all en bloc. the presiding officer: objection having been heard the bills will be read for a second time on the next legislative day. mr. schatz: mr. president as in executive session i ask unanimous consent that the injunction of secrecy be removed from the following treaty transmitted to the senate on may 7, 2014, by the president of the united states. the protocol amending the tax convention with spain treaty document number 113-4. i further ask that the treaty be considered as having been read for the first time, that it be referred with accompanying papers to the committee on foreign relations, in order to be printed and that the
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president's message be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. on thursday, may 8 2014 and that the following -- excuse me. that following the prayer and pledge the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day that following any leader remarks the time until 11:15 be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees and at 11:15 a.m. the senate proceed to executive session under the previous order. further that the cloture vote with respect to s. 2262 the energy savings and industrial competitiveness act occur upon disposition of calendar number 560 on monday, may 12, and finally the filing deadline for all first-degree amendments to s. 2262 be 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: tomorrow there will be a series of votes at 11:15 a.m. and another series at 1:45 p.m. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until
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>> it adds no new funds, but it is limited to $35 million during the fiscal year of existing funds and it requires a report on the results of the program to reduce the amount of unemployment compensa. i know that it does require that a veteran is placed in the job and has to be in that job for a time before they are paid for putting them in that job. >> the amendment, basically what this does it is a very worthy
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cause that provide cell with service members finding jobs. the department opposes it because they have a bunch of programs that do that already. the army career and alumni program, the army partnership office and the department of labor american jobs center. as i understand it this would contract that up to a private company would basically take $35 million out of these broader efforts to contract announcement to a private company and bill read the department feels that would undermine the efforts they are already undergoing an not advance the cause some. an expensive effort that would not improve upon what they're doing already. for that reason we will oppose the amendment. >> any further discussion on the amendment? if there is no further debate on the amendments in favor i
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opposed no. the amendment is agreed to buy there any other amendments to the subcommittee report? >> i have an amendment at the desk. >> will the clerk please pass out the amendment? the gentle lady is recognized fur and -- without objection reading amendment will be dispensed with. would have provided us say that? >> discuss with open up. >> i will keep saying it. the chair now recognizes the gentle lady for the purpose of offering. >> thank you. i will open this amendment and with job. last year thanks to the good
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work of congressman turner and congresswoman saunders some and senator boxer and myself we were able to look at article 32 proceedings and limit probable cause rather than an open and discovery hearing. the may recall the case at the interrogated for five days some and over 30 hours by three defense attorneys. and in many of these cases the article 32 hearing some been used to get the victim to drop the charges. we did some good work. it is not clear whether are not it is going to stick because there are some discussions that in lieu of the article 32 hearings what counsel is doing is they are proving toward
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opposing alleged victim's before the article 32. this amendment would prevent alleged victim's to be deposed only if they were unavailable to testify. i intend to continue to monitor. i know congressman stark is concerned and we will observe what is happening and then possibly come back a later date. >> the gentle lady with chaucer amendment. is there any other amendments to the subcommittee report? mr. turner is recognized. an amendment on the desk. >> yes, mr. chairman. >> please pass out the amendment
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without objection. reading of the amendment will be dispensed with. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from ohio for the purpose of offering and explaining his amendment. >> this was part of last year's stock. it was an amendment that was offered on the floor and passed by voice vote. to save us on the fly when offered year in the full committee. the premise of this amendment is that in our efforts for lessening sexual assault that there should be a penalty for sexual assault right now. someone who commits a sexual assault many times they are not subject to any incarceration whatsoever. we went across the country and looked at minimum standards for incarceration for sexual assault and we put it in this bill. for almost everyone who is on this committee this bill would
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satisfy probably the standards that are in your own state. it certainly should not be that someone commence the rate on a military base. the minimum should be less than if they committed off the base. so it was part before. there was some opposition. i was hoping we might be able to similarly include this time and perhaps again by voice vote. if you commit a sexual assault you would know for certain that you will be incarcerated for a minimum of two years. i yield back. >> question. did you say that it passed last year? >> last year i did not offer it in committee but on the house floor. past and the house floor by a voice vote. so we can say i am offering id nell a committee but there was not a recorded vote. i am hoping that we might be able to do that here in the
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committee. >> if it passed last year why is in the long? >> it passed the house vote but did not get your conference. >> i was not clear about that. passed the house. put it back in the bill again. >> further debate? >> mr. chairman, i appreciate the sincerity. they're is a reality. we know that mandatory minimum sentences don't work. showing that mandatory minimums do not have the effect that they were intended to half. in fact, we are seeing that they have unintended consequences. we have asked and established by congress the system's response panel's subcommittee recommended that congress might enact further mandatory minimum
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sentences in sexual assault cases at this time ticking away the discretion. the judicial proceeding panel also established by congress can better analyze the impact of these mandatory minimum sentences. it is a board we wait for the recommendations before we proceed with another mandatory minimum sentence. i hope that we will wait on this. there are -- there is increased prosecution of alleged sexual assaults in the military. we know that now. a lot of that is the pressure of this committee and others which would not necessarily be prosecuted in the civilian sector which establishes a mandatory minimum sentence but actually results in less prosecution and fewer convictions which is not something we're looking for. we did consider this.
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it was rejected last year. i must say the victim advocate organizations also oppose mandatory minimum sentences for these sex-related offenses. thank you. >> well is there any other debate on this amendment? >> thank you mr. chairman. i would also like to speak out in opposition to mr. turner's imminent. i value my work with mr. turner, especially that the we have that as co-chair of the military sexual assault prevention caucus and with the legislation we have crafted on combating this terrific crime. i am proud of our work together. now the fair military act which is included in the underlying bill we are debating today. however, i do take exception to the amendment before us that would require mandatory confinement for all individuals convicted of sexual assault. i agree that we must make sure
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that all individuals who are convicted of sexual assault in the military are punished with confinement but there are many different ideas about the best way to do that. that is why mr. turner and time worked on a provision in last year's defense authorization which required their judicial proceedings panel to take a hard look at mandatory minimums. that review has not yet happened. this committee also put in place an independent review panel selected of the military investigates prosecutes and cares for the victims of sexual assault. this monday a subcommittee of that panel made the recommendation that congress should not enact further mandatory minimum sentences in sexual assault cases at this time. so i agree that we should wait for the judicial proceedings panel as congresswoman davis has suggested before considering further mandatory minimums and i urge a no vote on this amendment who. >> thank you.
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i wish to yield my time to mr. mr. turner i have a high degree of regard. i have enjoyed working with you on the last amendment and other issues the you have brought forth. i think the bottom line for us yesterday the penalty for committing a sexual assault on a base should not be less than if they walk off the basin commit that sexual assault in general civil society. this bill is based -- it is the mandatory minimum across the country based on a rational basis of what is likely to be in every one of your states and where these bases are located. that is the basis on which we offered it last time and passed it. i think it sends a strong signal since it was in the house last time. it should be again with the strong statement of if you commit a sexual assault or if you commit one of bases should
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be subject to the same standards of minutes to the minute manitoulin minimum. >> mr. chairman thank you. i still have the words of a retired chief prosecutor general counsel to one of our services ringing in my years. after a retired he came and met with me and said the uniform code of military justice is crafted to protect the defendant if you look at what we have seen just in the last few years or even after there is a court-martial and a conviction until we close uc n.j. articles six and 63 that convening authority has the power to overturn a conviction by a jury of one's peers in a court-martial.
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so if anything will we have had in the military judicial system is total discretion. that has not brought justice to the victim. and so i am actually going to support this amendment by mr. mr. turner because i have had enough. >> is there further debate on the amendment? >> mr. chairman while mr. turner yield for a quick question? >> if i can answer it, sure. >> sure. >> in the bill the 2-year minimum for sexual assault all but all is included? >> the definition is in the amendment in front of you. we take into consideration that there are varying degrees of
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sexual assault. will we pattern this after, which is what i say in my comment is what is in state law in virtually almost every state. we did not just come up with this, and we did not use an arbitrary standard. we looked at what states do and then trying to harmonize that could be no different. >> i am inclined to support the amendment, but on the face of your amendment it refers back to another statute. the definition itself is not on the amendment. i am trying to figure out how broad that definition is. >> i am certain that it does raise concern. what we are talking about the most egregious the mandatory minimum. >> short. >> hopefully that answers your question.
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>> i have been asking staff. i thought that we head taken away the authority of the convening authority to overturn a decision in the last. >> yes sir. we did. >> i thought you had said they still have that authority. >> no what i said was up until we took it out. and so we became aware of it that was the law and has been a lot. i was just making the point about how they favor the defendant. >> i think what mr. turner is doing in his and his the person has already been convicted and he just wants to make sure they
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do the same time on base that they would do off base. they should not be able to get a lesser sentence if they commit the krylon base. is that correct? >> on sorry. i did not hear question. could you say it again? >> it was very profound. what i said was is make sure that after a conviction if they are convicted on base they don't get a lesser sentence them they would get off the base. >> at least it does require mandatory minimum. for example massachusetts has a 5-year mandatory minimum. we would only have a two. there are states that have to. we went to try to get one that is representative of the state so that at least there would be the requirement. >> exactly. they would have to go to jail.
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and the -- and it is the most egregious. the definitions in this amendment. they could give you the actual description. that way i don't have to read these terrible offenses. >> so do you have his answer? >> thank you. i would like to a did attorneys together working on these things. it is so much fun. >> mr. chairman. >> ms. sanchez. >> i would like to also ask mr. turner's of questions when he is available. mr. turner, so you said that you went out your staff went out or you went out and took a look at all states or just some states? >> we look across the country. >> what does that mean? >> i -- >> fifty states territories
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two states, just california? >> before you go do you want to search? i do believe california has a mandatory minimum. >> i'm just asking. i'm just trying to get a feel beam. -- >> does not what i'm asking you. >> if you'd like to pick a state. >> your sample size. >> a sampling of several states. >> several meeting how many? one 14 53? >> using a standard that is not hire we did not use five years. we would be glad to tell you. >> wait a minute. i am asking you some questions divvied mr. chairman i am just asking questions. mr. turner is it the mode, the at -- >> just a second. just a second please.
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in the interest you want to ask a specific question. >> i would like to ask three. >> okay. mr. turner would you like to answer to questions? >> i would love to provide information to my ranking member [inaudible question] help you? >> what was your sample size? >> and obama staff that it is 22 states. ..


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