Minnesota Republican reversed course after denouncing a plan that would add to the federal deficit.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Kline will back Republican-sponsored legislation to keep interest on federal subsidized Stafford Loans from doubling this summer.
U.S. House members could vote on the Interest Rate Reduction Act -- which would cap the interest rates at 3.4 percent for the next year -- as early as Friday, Speaker John Boehner said in a news conference Wednesday.
Supporting the bill would represent an about-face for Kline, who had denounced the push by Democrats to keep the interest rates intact for another year, criticizing the effort as a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
"No one wants to see interest rates on federal subsidized Stafford loans double in a few short months," Kline said in a statement released Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, both President Obama and his Democrat allies in Congress have failed to put forward a responsible plan that can extend current rates without raising taxes or adding to the deficit."
The key difference between the Republican legislation and Democratic bill -- the Stop the Rate Hike Act -- is how each side would cover the estimated $6 billion in costs to keep the loan interests rates steady.
Republicans would cut spending approved for Obama's health reform law, the Affordable Care Act.
"To take health care away from middle-class and low-income families in order to keep interest rates from rising for middle-class and low-income college students is simply wrong," said Rep. George Miller of California, lead Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Democrats would reduce tax subsidies for some businesses.
"We consider it raising taxes on small business," said Alexandra Sollberger, spokeswoman for the Republican-led committee.
Without congressional action by July 1, the rate will revert to 6.8 percent, where it stood before Congress brokered a deal to gradually reduce the interest on the loans five years ago.
Kline is working with colleagues to craft legislation tying the interest on federal student loans to market rates rather than political action, Sollberger said. That move could further lower rates.
The Star Tribune could not immediately reach Kline for comment on the proposed one-year fix, but in a statement he said " ... the House Republican proposal will roll back wasteful spending ... to help student borrowers without piling debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
"While this is not a perfect solution, it will enable Congress to develop the long-term solution borrowers and taxpayers deserve," Kline said.
Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @StribMitchell#