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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama to talk student loans, immigration amid more Bowe Bergdahl fallout

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Politics,White House,Immigration,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Student Loans,College Tuition,Bowe Bergdahl

After a two-week focus on foreign policy punctuated by the explosive swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners, President Obama will try to shift back to top domestic policy priorities this week.

The administration released more details about Bergdahl's time in captivity over the weekend – including that he has told U.S. authorities over the last week that he was tortured and placed in a metal cage in darkness for weeks, if not months, punishment for trying to escape.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Intelligence Committee, on Sunday said that the Obama was “justifiably proud” of the Bergdahl release, but told Bloomberg TV that she wasn't sure that his life was really in danger, as the administration claimed as a reason for not notifying Congress about the swap beforehand.

Her GOP counterpart, Saxby Chambliss, said the administration's uncharacteristically cut Congress out of any information about the potential Bergdahl swap after keeping he and Feinstein informed throughout the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He said he knew for months about the direction things were going in the months preceding the raid on his compound.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t get briefed on some classified aspect of our intelligence community, a lot of which is ongoing operations,” he said in an interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS.

The media is still uncovering details about Bergdahl's time serving in Afghanistan and the circumstances surrounding his capture, and lawmakers will hold hearings this week to continue to press for more information on Obama's decision to make the deal with the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

Against this chaotic background, Obama plans to make his case for Congress to pass immigration reform this year, and more immediately, a bill to help make college more affordable when he speaks to graduating seniors at both a high school and college this week.

Obama on Monday to announce an expansion of a federal program designed to reduce student-loan payments. The "Pay as You Earn" plan would potentially impact as many as five million Americans with student loans by capping payments on borrowers bills to 10 percent of their monthly income.

After 20 years of payments, all outstanding student loans would be forgiven for most borrowers with some who work for the government or designated nonprofits receiving relief after 10 years. The program already exists for students who took loans out after 2007 but the announcement would expand it to all borrowers.

On Monday, Obama also plans to join nurses from across the country to discuss the importance of passing commonsense immigration reform and in the afternoon, will deliver remarks and sign a presidential memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt.

Later in the afternoon, he will host the NCAA Champion University of Connecticut Huskies men and women's basketball teams to honor their 2013 championships.

Tuesday, Obama will hold an event moderated by Tumblr Founder and CEO David Karp and take questions from around the country on the importance of education and college affordability.

He travels to Worcester, Mass. Wednesday to deliver the commencement address at the Worcester Technical High School graduation ceremony, followed by a fundraiser for Senate Democrats in the evening.

On Thursday, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia at the White House and will also welcome the Women's National Basketball Association's Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House to honor the team and their victory in the WNBA Finals.

On Friday Obama and first lady Michelle will head out west for the weekend, traveling to Cannonball, N.D. To visit the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, before traveling to Palm Springs, Calif. for the weekend.

Obama will deliver the commencement address at University of California, Irvine on Saturday and cap the weekend back in Palm Springs with what appears to be some rest and relaxation with no events scheduled on the calendar yet.

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Author:

Susan Crabtree

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner