BY KATE ANDERSEN BROWER
AND ROGER RUNNINGEN
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama sought to turn up the pressure on Congress Thursday to prevent a doubling of student loan interest rates in 10 days.
"It's mind-boggling that we have this stalemate in Washington," Obama said at the White House. "Congress has had the time to fix this for months."
Unless Congress acts by July 1, the interest rate on new loans will rise to 6.8 percent from the current 3.4 percent, increasing costs for more than 7 million students and adding an average of $1,000 to college debt, according to the White House.
Freezing interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for another year would cost almost $6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House passed a bill April 27 to avert the rate increase, sending it to the Senate.
Lawmakers and the White House are in a dispute over how to pay for it. The administration has threatened to veto the House-passed bill because it would end a public-health fund to pay for the rate freeze.
The Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Boehner in the House, sent the White House on May 31 a list of what they said were bipartisan offers on how to fund the rate freeze. The administration hasn't responded.