From Congressman Wittman:
The heat of summer continues to be felt all across the First District, but I know that for many folks, the school year is just around the corner. This summer, several pieces of legislation have passed through the House of Representatives that address various parts of our education system.
The first piece came as a result of interest rates doubling for new federal direct student loans following the expiration of laws maintaining the previous rate. These rates increased from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, an increase that would certainly have affected many of our young people who are pursuing the education that will help them achieve their career goals and realize their potential. However, this rate hike simply did not have to happen - the House passed legislation (H.R. 1911) on May 23, 2013, with my support, to provide a permanent solution to this issue.
After several months of debate, and uncertainty for our students, the Senate finally passed a slightly amended version of this bill on July 24 to ensure that our students wouldn’t be forced to secure loans at the newer, higher rates. While I had hoped cooler heads would prevail before July 1, I am relieved that the Senate agreed to pass a long term solution to this issue to prevent future uncertainty. H.R. 1911 passed the House for a second time on July 31, with my support and was signed into law by the president on August 9.
As the husband of a schoolteacher, and as a parent and grandparent, I am also very interested in childhood and secondary education, and in exploring methods to improve the way the American education system functions. Recently, I was pleased to support the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which reforms existing education law by returning much of the responsibility for student achievement to states, school districts, and parents. This bill does not undermine the high expectations we require for an effective system of education; it does, however, harness our limited taxpayer dollars more wisely by eliminating ineffective federal programs and strengthening the long-standing protections for state and local autonomy. States absolutely must have flexibility in the way they administer federal standards, and I believe that this bill is a way to achieve that.
As I serve you in Washington, the next generation of Americans is always on my mind, and I am fully committed to pursuing rational, commonsense policies that will leave this nation better than it is today. Above all, I believe we must ensure that our children and grandchildren are not being saddled with unconscionable debt that will stifle the economic opportunity that has defined our nation over the course of her history. Preventing this from happening is something that can start today, with smart tax reform and realistic, balanced budgets in Washington that facilitate an environment of economic growth and stability for our families and businesses. Congress and the White House absolutely must understand the danger that Washington partisanship and petty politics pose for the long term of future of this country.
The main streets of Virginia’s First District are full of ideas to
get our economy back on track, and your feedback is critically important to me
as I serve you. I can be reached by telephone at (202)
225-4261, through my website (www.wittman.house.gov), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/reprobwittman),
and via Twitter (www.twitter.com/robwittman).
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the First District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee where he is the Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.