EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

May 9, 2012

Dems hit Brown on student loan vote, fundraising

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown joined other Senate Republicans yesterday to derail a Democratic bill aimed at keeping interest rates on federal college loans from doubling July 1, prompting criticism from Democrats in his home state who said he was hurting middle-class families.

The Massachusetts Republican and the state's Democratic Party also traded jabs over his fundraising efforts in New York City and his call for his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, to release law school applications and personnel files from the universities where she's taught.

Yesterday's vote on the student loan bill, largely on partisan lines, came a day after Brown said he supported a one-year extension of the current 3.4 percent interest rate on federal student loans. Brown said it's time to come up with a bipartisan solution.

"The job market is dismal and the cost of getting a college education is out of control," Brown said. "We should be working together on a solution that prevents these rates from skyrocketing."

Massachusetts Democrats said Brown's vote showed he was standing with the national Republican Party, not middle-class Massachusetts families.

"Senate Democrats put forth a measure to keep student loan rates low, but Scott Brown joined Senate Republicans to block it," said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh.

Both Brown and his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, say they support extending the lower rate for another year. Brown has proposed paying for the extension by reducing what he called "improper payments made by the federal government" including payments sent to the wrong recipient or incorrect amounts sent to the right recipients.

The Senate vote was largely symbolic because the Democratic bill had no chance of approval by the GOP-led House. Tuesday's vote was 52-45 in favor of starting debate on the Democratic legislation — eight votes shy of the 60 needed to move the bill forward.

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