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Whatever Happened to that Student Loan Bill?

Remember that student lending bill that Congress was supposed to get right on this year? You know, the one that, in the House version at least, provided all kinds of extra resources for early-childhood education, school facilities, and community colleges?

Well, it's officially December, time is running out on the legislative clock ... and we haven't heard a peep from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on the lending bill. The House passed its version back in September.

The reason? The health care overhaul bill, which is sucking up every ounce of the Senate's time and energy. It's tough for other bills that are also likely to prove controversial to break through that cacophony.

There is also some speculation that Democratic leaders want to preserve the option of passing health care overhaul through a process called reconciliation. That would help the bill clear some important procedural hurdles. But that may be politically dangerous for vulnerable Democratic lawmakers, so it's a long shot. Still, if the health care bill goes through that way, student loans could be part of the same package.

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