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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 1st, 2013
07:42 AM ET

Analysis: 'Political Gut Check' on student loan rates, and the Voting Rights Act

Members of Congress have taken off on their week-long Fourth of July recess, but they have left quite a lot of unfinished business behind on Capitol Hill, including student loan rates that are set to do double Monday.

This is typical Washington, D.C. dysfunction at its best - everybody knew this date was coming, and yet a compromise was not achievable.

On the bright side, congressional sources tell CNN that there is some optimism that student loan rates will be taken care of either next week, or the week after, and that the lower rates will be retroactive. Ultimately, students will not have to pay the higher rate.

There is an impasse on whether or not the rate should be kept at 3.4%, or should be tied to the economy. There is a also lot of disagreement between Democrats on Republicans on the question of if rates are tied to the market, whether or not they should be capped, so they never go above, say, 8%.

Ultimately, there is the basis for a compromise to come together. With the knowledge that they would be able to fix this retroactively, members of Congress went on their vacations and decided they would deal with it later.

Another item Congress will deal with much, much later is the Voting Rights Act, following last week's Supreme Court decision. The court ruling did not change the fact it is still illegal to discriminate against a person when it comes to voting. But it does change how some governments have been singled out. Unlike the rest of the nation, these municipalities, counties and states have had to get the federal government's approval first before they made any changes to their voting laws and regulations.

There is a chance Congress will deal with this, but it is an issue that is much more of a longer-term project. The Department of Justice is just now meeting to discuss what new formula they would suggest.

President Barack Obama responded to the ruling while on a trip in Africa, and talked about how there could be remedies that are not based on jurisdiction, meaning not necessarily the same southern states that were originally in the Voting Rights Act.

One Republican on Capitol Hill told CNN that the issue would benefit from a long, methodical discussion that takes away from the spotlight, as opposed to garnering a lot of attention and trying to do it quickly.

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