[SPRINGFIELD, IL] – While calling attention to end-of–the-week-deadlines for transportation and student loan interest rate legislation, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today that this week’s Senate passage of the bipartisan Farm Bill demonstrates that Congress can still take effective action in the midst of an election year.
“The Senate’s bipartisan farm bill represents a major step towards putting our agriculture policy on the right track, while also saving more than $23 billion over the next ten years,” said Durbin.
Included in the Senate-passed farm bill is an amendment Senator Durbin co-sponsored with Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) that asks the country’s wealthiest farmers to shoulder more risk by reducing the level of federal premium support for crop insurance participants with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) over $750,000 by 15 percentage points for all buy-up policies beyond catastrophic coverage. When fully implemented, the Durbin-Coburn amendment will save the federal government more than $1.1 billion over ten years.
“Though our wealthiest farmers are most able to cover their risks, we subsidize their crop insurance at exactly the same rate as we do middle income and lower income farmers,” said Durbin. “This amendment corrects that lack of balance while also saving a billion dollars, and Senator Coburn and I are pleased that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognized its value.”
With less than week remaining before the current transportation bill expires on June 30, Senator Durbin—a member of the House-Senate transportation bill conference committee—again stressed the importance of enacting meaningful, long-term legislation to replace it. The Senate’s bipartisan transportation bill, which passed by a vote of 74-22 earlier this year, would create and protect millions of jobs nationwide – including 67,800 in Illinois – and prevent crippling cuts to highways and public transit agencies.
“Passing a transportation bill before the current one expires is crucial for Illinois’ economy,” said Durbin. “The current lack of federal commitment to infrastructure translates to fewer jobs and future uncertainty for important projects in our state just as we approach the peak of construction season.”
Senator Durbin noted his concern that Illinois students stand to lose $388 million if Congress fails to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates that takes effect July 1. If Congress can come together to prevent the rate hike, each of more than 365,000 Illinois students will save over $1,000 over the life of their loans.
“College affordability shouldn’t be an issue up for debate,” Durbin said. “As federal student loan debt balloons to an average of $25,000 per student, allowing subsidized Stafford rates to double is unconscionable. For the next generation to have a chance to lead productive middle-class lives, we must ensure their debt levels stay low.”