WASHINGTON — The Senate's top Democrat and Republican said Tuesday that they've reached a deal that would prevent interest rates on college loans from doubling beginning this weekend for millions of students. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has yet to decide whether the pact will be acceptable to his Republican-run chamber.

The agreement, if approved by Congress, would spell an end to one of this election-season's higher profile conflicts between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. Even so, the battle has been a bitter one, with Republicans accusing the White House of dragging out the fight to score political points and Democrats accusing the GOP of blocking action on the issue.

"The president's been largely uninvolved in that, but Senator Reid and I have an understanding that we think will be acceptable to the House," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.

"We basically have the student loan issue worked out," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said separately.

Under the agreement, interest rates for new subsidized Stafford loans would remain at 3.4 percent through next June 30.

Without congressional action, interest rates on the loans would double to 6.8 percent for new loans beginning July 1, this Sunday, for 7.4 million students the government estimates would get such loans over the next year.

That increase, should it occur, would not affect loans currently held by students. The higher rate would cost the average student an extra $1,000 over the life of the loan, which typically takes more than a decade to repay.

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement expressing support for the agreement, adding, "We hope that Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the president as soon as possible."

About $5 billion of the measure's $6 billion cost would come from Democratic pension-related proposals, including a change in how companies compute the money they must set aside to fund their pensions. The change would make their contributions more consistent year to year and in effect lower them – which business desires – and result in fewer corporate tax deductions for those payments.

In addition, fees that companies pay to have their pensions insured by the quasi-government Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. would rise to reflect increases in inflation.

The remaining funds would come from a GOP plan to limit federal subsidies for Stafford loans for undergraduates to six years. Currently, the government charges no interest while students are still in school, even if it takes them longer than six years to graduate.

The financing was described by Senate Democratic and GOP aides who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the emerging agreement.

Asked if Boehner would sign off on the agreement, spokesman Michael Steel said, "We'll take a look."

The pension money was also being discussed as way to finance an extension of federal transportation programs, which expire this weekend. Leaders were hoping agreement on both bills could be approved before Congress leaves town for its July 4 break at week's end.

Obama spent part of this spring traveling to college campuses to underscore his effort to prevent the interest rates from rising. In so doing, he was appealing to student-age voters who supported him strongly in the 2008 presidential election.

Hoping to pre-empt Obama from using student loans as an issue this fall, GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney said in April that he supported extending the lower loan rates. Congressional GOP leaders said they supported an extension as well, though some rank-and-file Republicans still oppose the idea, arguing it is too expensive and that financial markets should set the lending rates.

In recent weeks, the disagreement was over how to pay for the extension.

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  • John Shadegg Wields A Baby

    In this past weekend's health care debate, Arizona Republican John Shadegg bravely opened a new frontier by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/10/jon-stewart-mocks-use-of_n_351911.html">using a live baby as a visual aid</a> to complain about health care reform. The infant, Maddie, was introduced as Shadegg's grand-daughter, which Shadegg quickly corrected, saying, "I wish this <i>was</i> my granddaughter." I wish most Congresspersons demonstrated Maddie's level of cognitive development, but no!

  • Alan Grayson Warns We Will All Die Slowly

    Florida Democrat Alan Grayson made headlines when he took to the well of the House of Representatives<a href="http://airamerica.com/politics/10-27-2009/grayson/"> to warn that the GOP health care plan</a> was for all of the nation's uninsured to DIE QUICKLY! But not so quick that you miss all of the manufactured suspense as Grayson flipped through his poster boards.

  • Tom Latham Regifts The Chinese

    Iowa Republican Tom Latham hates him some cap and trade. So much that he <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/politics_nation/2009/06/latham_brings_props_to_house_f.html">decided to box up a hard hat</a> with the words "American Jobs" written on it and send it to China, as a gift. How thoughtful! And all we've gotten in return is a mess of poisonous toys.

  • Peter Roskam's Into Bondage

    Illinois Republican Peter Roskam took a look at the health care bill and saw handcuffs. And "not figurative handcuffs," <a href="http://hotair.com/archives/2009/11/09/video-if-obamacare-is-so-good/">Roskam said</a>, "actual criminal penalties." So, you <i>do</i> mean figurative handcuffs? Anyway, it's a good thing David Vitter sits in the U.S. Senate, because he would have probably been a little inappropriately interested in this presentation.

  • Michele Bachmann Get's Lei'd

    Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann made the acquaintance of some hula dancing Teabaggers from Hawaii, and they brought her a lei, which Bachmann herself could obtain at the airport in Hawaii, were it not for the fact that she believes planes cannot fly over water without the use of witchcraft. Anyway, <a href="http://minnesotaindependent.com/49288/bachmann-lei-health-care-steve-israel-holocaust">she told Congress</a>, "I’m reminded that the one who created this lei also created our freedom. Are we so insensible to the high cost our forebearers paid to purchase our freedom?" So, the Hawaiian Bureau of Tourism created our freedom? I guess this is not supposed to make much sense.

  • Chuck Grassley, Dragon Slayer

    <a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-4-2009/chuck-grassley-s-debt-and-deficit-dragon">CLASSIC CHUCK GRASSLEY</a> (R-Iowa) here, as the Iowan mixed all the metaphors he had at his disposal to inveigh against health care reform: Sir Lancelot! Dragons! Painful weapons! Golden egg-laying geese! The whole thing was like having a Pear Of Anguish inserted into your brain. Unless, of course, you were Maddie -- John Shadegg's not-granddaughter -- who probably likes the pretty pictures!

  • Chuck Grassley Saw A Bill Murray Movie

    More from Charles Grassley: "We should not legislate in a hasty manner and place ourselves in an infinite loop," says Grassley, apparently <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/anneschroeder/0608/Chuck_Grassley_is_a_Bill_Murray_fan.html">drawing the wrong lesson from Bill Murray's GROUNDHOG DAY</a>, in which said "infinite loop" allowed Bill Murray's character the chance to experience personal growth, so that he was no longer the sort of preening dick who'd waste the time of serious people with comparisons to movies he saw one night on Comedy Central.

  • Orrin Hatch Hates Robin Hood

    Utah Republican Orrin Hatch LOVES HIM some children's tales, too, it seems. Thankfully, he kept his stories straight, <a href="http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2009/04/orrin-hatch-quotes-from-disneys-robin-hood.html">citing Robin Hood</a> as a way of discussing Obama's infernal plan to redistribute wealth in America. It's not clear that Hatch quite understands who would be the Sheriff of Nottingham in this metaphor. But look, just be thankful Hatch didn't burst into an impromptu performance of Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." Hatch, we remind you, fancies himself to be quite the singer.

  • Frank Lautenberg Is Sick Of These Star Wars

    New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg <a href="http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/lautenberg_judges_star_wars_519">compared then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat</a> to eliminate the Senate filibuster to Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine's efforts to destroy galactic freedom, murder the Jedi and crush "terrorism" with the Death Star. Flash forward to today, and suddenly the elimination of the Senate filibuster doesn't seem like such a bad idea, eh, Senate Democrats?

  • George Voinovich: Prop Master

    When it comes to Congressional visual aids, the master of the form is Ohio Republican George Voinovich, who was the Jean-Michel Basquiat of poster-board-based metaphorical imagery. Check out all that elaborate work! The lovingly rendered "Emperor's New Clothes," the detailed Wheel of Fortune, the G4 Channel courting Pac Man nonsense...<a href="http://www.politico.com/click/stories/0911/charting_the_course.html">we're going to miss the senator when he retires</a>. But you know who won't miss him? The poor interns who had to build this crap.

Earlier on HuffPost: