The Senate voted down a proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to raise taxes on millionaires in order to pay the cost of letting people with student loans refinance at lower rates.
Warren's amendment was proposed as an amendment to the Senate budget plan that's expected to pass this week. Just before the vote, Warren tweeted that it's time to save millions of Americans from their student loan debt:
Our budget should reflect our values, so I’m introducing a budget amendment to refi student loans to 2013 rates. pic.twitter.com/cvPlOO1JyR— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 25, 2015
Her proposal to let people refinance would have been paid for with a proposal that Democrats have offered several times over the last few years — the so-called Buffett Rule, named after famed investor Warren Buffett. As translated by Democrats, that rule means all income above a certain level should face a minimum tax, a plan inspired by Buffett's comment that he pays a lower rate than his secretary.
In this case, Warren proposed a minimum tax of 30 percent on all income above $1 million per year.
As expected, the Senate rejected Warren's plan in a party line vote of 46-53.
But the Senate did accept language related to student loans on Wednesday. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Angus King (I-Vt.) put forward a plan that would consolidate various federal student loan programs, and give students a choice of accepting a payment plan over 10 years, or repaying loans based on income.
The Senate accepted his plan in a voice vote, a sign of broad support from members of both parties. A House aide said Democrats requested the voice vote to mask the strength of Burr's proposal, which was supported by nearly every Democrat, and to ensure no vote comparison could be made to the final vote on Warren's language.
Burr explained his amendment in a floor speech just before the vote: