CONGRESS

Lobbyists Fight Student-Loan Change

A bill championed by President Obama that was once thought to be an easy sell in Congress has turned into a difficult vote thanks to a major lobbying campaign by the country's largest student lenders and the prospect of a Republican filibuster. The bill would take billions of dollars in subsidies to student loans that currently are given to private lenders and instead hand them directly to students. Sallie Mae, a company that doled out $22 billion in student loans last year, spent $8 million on lobbying in the same period while others spent millions more, The New York Times reports. Private lenders say they provide useful counseling to their clients, but the White House contends the money could be used to fund even more programs to help students pay for college. “We anticipated this,” Arne Duncan, the Education secretary, told the Times. “They’ve had a sweet deal. They’ve had this phenomenal deal that taxpayers have subsidized, and that’s a hard thing to give up.”