Democrats urge President Biden to write off $ 50,000 in student debt
The Biden administration is examining whether it can take steps to ease student debt through executive action, even as it continues to call on Congress to pass legislation to help borrowers and their families. families.
A tweet from White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to go beyond her comments in a briefing earlier Thursday when she said President Joe Biden was counting on Congress to then act on student loan relief. Biden said he supports up to $ 10,000 in student loan forgiveness per borrower.
“The president continues to support student debt cancellation to provide relief to students and families,” Psaki tweeted. “Our team is looking at if there are any steps he can take through executive action and he would be happy to be able to sign a bill sent to him by Congress.”
It came hours after a group of Democrats urged Biden to use management action to write off $ 50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers. The group, which included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from New York and Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, said it would stimulate the economy and help narrow the country’s racial wealth gap.
Biden had previously said he supported wiping out up to $ 10,000 in student debt through legislation, but had not shown interest in executive action. During a briefing before posting his statement on Twitter, Psaki appeared to reject the idea of using presidential powers to write off debt, saying Biden had already suspended student loan payments during the pandemic.
“He would look to Congress to take the next steps,” she said.
Lawyers have fallen to either side over whether Biden himself has the power to deal with loan reliefs, with some saying the move is unlikely to survive a legal challenge.
The Trump administration took action to block blanket debt cancellation in early January, issuing an education department note concluding that the secretary did not have the authority to provide such assistance and that it would fall to Congress .
Schumer said he and Warren had studied the matter and concluded that “this is one of those things the president can do on his own.” Former presidents have cleared the debt, Schumer said, but not on the scale proposed.
Democrats are pressing the issue as a matter of racial justice and COVID-19 relief. They rely on statistics showing that black and Latino borrowers are more likely to take on student debt and take longer to repay their loans.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Said the student debt crisis “has always been about racial and economic justice.”
“But for too long, the narrative has excluded black and Latin communities, and how that debt has exacerbated deep-rooted racial and economic inequalities in our nation,” she said.
Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Also supports the measure, which said it would help millions of Americans who suffered financial losses during the pandemic. “The last thing people should worry about is their student debt,” she said.
Calls for debt cancellation have escalated after years of rising tuition fees that have helped inflate national student debt. More than 42 million Americans now hold federal student loans of a combined $ 1.5 trillion, according to Department of Education data.
In an effort to provide relief shortly after the pandemic struck last year, the Trump administration suspended federal student loan payments and set interest rates at zero percent. Upon taking office, Biden extended the moratorium until at least September 30.
Some Democrats say that’s not enough, and Schumer said he recently met with Biden to advocate for broader relief.
Forgiving the $ 50,000 student debt would cost around $ 650 billion, Warren said. She argues that it would be a “big boon” to the economy by allowing more Americans to buy homes and start businesses.
Republicans have pledged to fight any attempt at blanket debt cancellation, saying it unfairly shifts the burden from borrowers to taxpayers.
In a hearing Wednesday with Biden’s candidate for education secretary, Senator Richard Burr, RN.C., urged the White House to reject calls for a massive surrender and instead pass legislation aimed at to simplify loan repayment options.
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