Democrats take further action to pressure Biden to cancel student debt
Congressional Democrats are stepping up their lobbying campaign to convince President Biden to enact sweeping student debt cancellation through executive action.
This morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) held a press conference to reintroduce a resolution in Congress calling on Biden to use executive action to write off $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt for each borrower.
“[Student loan debt] is a huge anchor across our economy, “Senator Schumer said today, saying there are few more powerful economic tools available to President Biden” than the cancellation of $ 50,000 in student debt. It would be a huge boost to our economy. ”
The new resolution reflects earlier efforts by Congressional Democrats last year calling on the president to write off student debt. “Large-scale student debt cancellation is precisely the kind of bold, high-impact policy that the broad and diverse coalition that elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris expects to implement,” said declared Pressley said in an earlier statement.
Last year’s student debt cancellation resolution was supported by a diverse coalition of 237 civic and consumer rights organizations, including the NAACP and several national unions, which sent a letter to Biden in November urging him to use executive power to write off federal student debt. Now that Democrats control the House, Senate and Presidency, pressure is mounting on Biden to take action.
Progressive lawmakers and consumer rights organizations have argued that the higher education law gives the president broad powers to release borrowers from their student loans. A specific provision of the law confers on the President, through the Secretary of Education, the power to “enforce, pay for, compromise, waive or release any right, title, claim, privilege or demand, whatever or the acquisition, including any equity or any right of redemption. Several student loan legal experts have argued that using this provision to write off student loan debt is legally valid.
Senator Schumer said this morning: “The President can do it himself … Senator Warren and I have done extensive research on this point, and there is legal authority.”
But others have expressed concern that such executive action could face serious legal challenges as undue interference with executive authority. Under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, lawyers for the U.S. Department of Education argued that using executive action to write off federal student loan debt would exceed the authority given to the president by Congress under the Higher Education Act.
And Biden himself has expressed skepticism about his power to unilaterally write off student debt, saying last month it would be “unlikely” to do so. Biden also did not approve $ 50,000 for student loan cancellations, and instead requested $ 10,000 for loan cancellations, which he supported during his presidential campaign.
Nonetheless, the president has not expressly ruled out the use of executive action to cancel student debt, and advocates for student loan borrowers and their allies in Congress are stepping up their lobbying campaign, arguing that the Massive cancellation of student loans would bring critical economic relief to struggling Americans and tackle racial injustices. Studies have shown that student debt disproportionate burdens communities of color.
“We applaud dozens of members of the Senate and House for bringing forward resolutions calling for the cancellation of student debt,” said Natalia Abrams of Student Debt Crisis. “Lawmakers are sending a clear message: as a nation, we must do everything in our power to provide financial assistance to individuals, stimulate the struggling economy and tackle our dark history of racial inequities during this time. unprecedented. President Biden can do it with the stroke of a pen. “
On the first day of his term in office, President Biden signed an executive order extending the moratorium on payments, interest, and collections on federal student loans until September 30, 2021, effectively gaining the administration’s time to assess options for student loan reform while providing immediate (albeit temporary) relief to student loan borrowers in the interim.
“We have met with the president and we are pushing the president,” Senator Schumer said.