Photos by Ty Swenson
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)leads a South Seattle Community College rally on May 11 to protect student loan interest rates. PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE FOR MORE

SLIDESHOW: Sen. Murray rallies SSCC students to fight for student loan interest rate protection

It is hard to imagine a better end to Civic Week at South Seattle Community College than to have U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) step to the podium under a warm spring sky and rally students in support of the Student Loan Interest Rate Act.

After spending time with President Obama on Thursday, Sen. Murray spoke to a SSCC crowd well over 100 strong on May 11; her remarks focused on slamming the Republican Senate for their May 8 filibuster of the bill that would keep student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.

The current interest rate on federal student loans in 3.4 percent.

“We are not going to allow Republicans to jeopardize the future of America’s students,” Sen. Murray said. “We are here today because unless Congress acts interest rates for a lot of our students, for a lot of you in the crowd today, are going to double in 51 days.

“That is a tax hike on 107,000 students right here in Washington State, and as all of you know that comes at a time when our families and all of our students are fighting just to afford college as it is today.”

She said the Democrats moved to bring the bill onto the Senate floor for consideration, but “not one Republican would vote with us to bring that bill onto the floor just to consider it. Not one … they blocked it from being debated. Why? Because they didn’t like how we were paying for it. We were paying for it by closing a tax loophole on some of the wealthiest Americans.”

According to CNNMoney, House Republicans tried to pass a measure to keep the loans at their current rates by cutting from a health care fund promoting preventive care, which the President said he would veto. The Democrat’s plan to fund the bill, according to that report, was to eliminate tax benefits for business owners.

“This is a personal issue for me,” Sen. Murray said. “I stand here today … as a United States Senator but it was not easy for me to get here. I grew up in a family with seven kids, my dad, when I was in high school, got sick with multiple sclerosis and he lost his job. All the sudden my family was looking at a really bleak future, but my country was there for me. My county was there for me with Pell grants and students loans, not just for me, but for my brothers and sisters. Because my country was there for me when my family was in trouble, my seven brothers and sisters became a firefighter, a lawyer, a computer programmer, a sports writer, a homemaker, a middle school teacher and a United States senator. Pretty good investment.

“My story is not unique,” she continued. “For so many people today the ticket to security and a middle class future is in education. We cannot, as a country, allow that to slip away.”

Sen. Murray also took a moment to thank the returning veteran students attending SSCC.

As her speech wrapped up the cheers erupted and signs of support rose up in the arms of SSCC students as United Student Association President Dante Obcena led the crowd in a chant: “No ifs! No buts! No fees! No cuts!”

Anthony Williams, a SSCC student proudly carrying a life-sized cutout of President Obama with him at the rally, said, “By next quarter I will be receiving student loans and I don’t want (them) to increase at all because I’m coming from a very low income family, so I need all the help I can get.”

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