We lost the vote.
This morning, the Senate held its first vote on the Bank on Students Act to let people refinance their student loans. We got a majority — 58 senators were ready to go our way — but the Republicans filibustered the bill and we didn’t even get to debate it.
I guess this is when some people would give up. Not us. Not a chance.
Here’s how I see it:
When we first started talking about student loans last summer, we stood strong for a better deal on new student loans. Today, we got every Democrat, every Independent, and even three Republicans to support a bill that would permit refinancing for 40 million people who are shouldering $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.
Considering the speed that the Senate normally works, that’s a lot of movement in a short time.
And it’s not only what we did, it’s how we did it. We put the plan to pay for it right on the table. No gimmicks or smoke-and-mirrors. We said that when the government reduces its profits on student loans, the money should be made up by stitching up tax loopholes so that millionaires and billionaires pay at least as much in taxes as middle class families.
We made the choice clear: billionaires or students. People who have already made it big or people who are still trying to get a fair shot.
We made the choice clear — and then we fought for it. We stood up and spoke out — individually and through our terrific organizations. We gathered more than 750,000 signatures on petitions. We made our voices heard — and that’s how we got well over 50 votes.
At this point, most Republicans want us to quiet down and fade away. They don’t want us to point out that this morning, most Republicans said it was more important to protect the tax loopholes for billionaires than to cut the rates on student loans.
I think it is time to come back louder than ever. I think it is time to show up at campaign events and town halls and ask every single Republican who voted against this bill why protecting billionaires is more important than giving our kids a chance to pay off their loans. I think we need to ask, and ask again, and ask again.
So there it is: Show up at an event and ask a question. Encourage your friends to show up and ask questions. Send an email. Make a call. And keep circulating the petitions. This isn’t over.
In Washington, I hear people say that “Elections have consequences.” I’d like to shift that just a little bit and say “Senate votes have consequences, too.”
When Republicans vote to force students to keep paying high interest rates on students loans in order to plug the budget holes from tax breaks for billionaires, then it’s time to hold those Republicans accountable.
I don’t plan to let this issue die. I plan to fight back. And I hope people all across this country will do exactly the same.