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As senator, Obama missed votes on student loan bill he now wants to extend


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In 2007, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama missed two votes on the student loan interest bill that he now wants Congress to extend.

Obama twice skipped the Senate vote on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act when the bill came to the Senate floor first in July and again in September of 2007, according to public records.

The bill, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and signed into law by President George W. Bush, first cleared the Senate in July on a 78 to 18 vote, with Obama as one of only four senators who didn't cast a ballot. Obama did not cast a vote again in September, after the House and Senate had ironed out different versions of the bill. He was on the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate versions of the bill.

He issued a statement when the bill was signed by President Bush, saying, "by investing in education we are restoring America's competitiveness in the world, and today is an important step forward."

Obama has made keeping student loan interest rates low a new priority for his administration — but as a senator, he neither voted for Miller's bill nor signed on as a cosponsor.

A White House official on Monday insisted he was deeply involved in the legislation, voting on amendments and sitting on the conference committee. The White House also pointed out his vote was not needed for passage.

“President Obama was directly involved in crafting this legislation to provide American families a fair shot at an affordable college education when it first passed in 2007, and now he’s calling on Congress to prevent interest rates from doubling on July 1 for more than 7.4 million students who will rack up, on average, an additional $1,000 unless Congress acts,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.




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