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They said the plan would have a negligible impact on the deficit — an attempt to head off some Democrats’ complaints that lawmakers are trying to reduce the nation’s debt problem on the backs of students.

Yet many Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are set on extending the current rates.

Mrs. Pelosi said affordable education brings more money into the nation’s coffers by helping Americans become productive citizens.

“They’re trying to use students to reduce the deficit,” she said. “But in the end, nothing reduces the deficit more than investing in education.”