White House “Extremely Open” to Student Loan Debt Cancellation, Schumer Says
Congressional Democrats are stepping up pressure on the White House to write off student debt, a step the administration says it is reviewing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren reintroduced a resolution Thursday calling on the president to immediately write off up to $ 50,000 in student debt for each borrower.
Schumer said he and Warren spoke with President Biden and his advisers for 45 minutes on the matter.
“We have met the President, we are pushing the President and his people and we are hopeful that the cry across America – take this student loan debt off our backs – will be heard at Home Blanche, ”Schumer said.
Schumer later added that the White House had “been extremely open to listening to us.”
When Schumer and Warren first announced the proposal in September, they pointed it at Biden, who at the time was just a candidate. Now lawmakers are putting pressure on a sitting president who has the power to choose whether or not to champion their cause.
Schumer and Warren were speaking at a press conference where they were joined by Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and other lawmakers who presented a follow-up resolution in the House.
Calls for Biden to use his executive power to write off student debt have increased since his election in November. Amid the pandemic-induced slowdown, student debt cancellation has emerged among progressives and some mainstream Democrats as an attractive option because it may not require wrangling in Congress.
“Canceling student loan debt is the most effective executive step President Biden can take to jumpstart this economy,” Warren said at the press conference.
However, despite pressure from lawmakers, it appears Biden is still reluctant to use his authority to cancel student loans. At the White House press conference Thursday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, reiterated Biden’s support for Congress to cancel $ 10,000 in student debt per person in response to the COVID crisis.
“He’s calling on Congress to draft the proposal,” Psaki said, noting that Biden “would be anxious” to sign it if she arrived at his office.
Still, Psaki acknowledged the president’s power to deal with the matter through his authority, noting that Biden ordered the Department of Education to extend the break in payments and collections on federal student loans when he took its functions.
“He has already taken a step into executive action on day one and he would look to Congress for the next steps,” she said.
In a tweet following the briefing, Psaki appeared to go further, claiming that the administration was “examining if there were any steps [Biden] can take by executive action.
Schumer, Warren and other supporters of student debt cancellation through executive action rely on a reading of the Higher Education Act, backed by legal experts, which says Congress has granted the Secretary of Education the power to cancel student debt.
Other supporters of student debt cancellation disagree, saying the use of executive power raises legal questions that could lead to lawsuits from student loan officers, lenders and d ‘other entities involved in the lending process.
The idea of student debt cancellation has its origins in Occupy Wall Street and although it has gained traction in recent years – particularly as the disproportionate impact of student debt on students of color has become apparent – this is not without controversy.
Critics fear this is a boon for borrowers who have six-figure debt from their graduate studies, but also relatively high incomes. But supporters, including lawmakers at the press conference, argue it would improve racial fairness. Supporters of student debt cancellation have also said that the student loan system is essentially political failure, and student debt cancellation is part of its correction.
“We think it’s a great economy, great politics and most of all great humanity,” Schumer said.