In response to a growing push from progressive groups and Congressional Democrats, the Biden administration is indicating a willingness to consider canceling at least some student loan debt through executive action.
“President Continues To Support Student Debt Cancellation To Relieve Students And Families,” White House Press Secretary Says Jan Psaki in a statement Thursday. “Our team is examining if there are steps they can take through executive action.”
This represents one of the strongest indicators to date that President Biden has not closed the door on the use of executive power to enact a massive student loan cancellation and that he is actively considering options. However, Biden’s continued preference appears to be for Congress to take action to pass legislation. “He would be happy to have the opportunity to sign a bill sent to him by Congress,” Psaki said.
The White House statement follows a growing campaign of pressure by supporters of student loan borrowers and a significant portion of the Democratic caucus in Congress to convince President Biden to use executive power to enact a massive loan cancellation students.
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 reintroducing a resolution in Congress calling on Biden to use management action to write off $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt for each borrower. The new resolution reflects earlier efforts by Congressional Democrats last year calling on the president to write off student debt.
“[Student loan debt] is a huge anchor on our entire economy, “said Senator Schumer, arguing that there are few more powerful economic tools available to President Biden” than the cancellation of $ 50,000 student debt. It would be a huge boost for our economy. ”
The push by Democratic lawmakers coincides with the additional efforts of organizations advocating for student loan borrowers. At least 328 organizations, including prominent unions and civil rights groups, have signed a letter last month he urged President Biden to cancel student debt.
“There is a growing energy and a strong bipartite public support for immediate large-scale debt cancellation, ”the organizations wrote. “Such executive action is one of the few tools available that could immediately boost over 44 million borrowers and the economy.”
Advocates also claim that the massive cancellation of student loans would address racial injustices. Studies have shown that student debt disproportionate burdens communities of color, and in particular, black Americans. “Student debt exacerbates existing racial inequalities; the cancellation will help reduce the racial wealth gap, ”the coalition wrote.
Progressive lawmakers and consumer rights organizations have argued that the higher education law gives the president the power to release borrowers from their student loans. A specific provision of the statute gives the president, through the secretary of education, the power to “enforce, pay, compromise, waive or release any right, title, claim, privilege or demand in any way. 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 on his own … Senator Warren and I have done extensive research on this, and there is legal authority.”
But others expressed concern that such executive action could face serious legal challenges as overtaking executive power. Under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, attorneys for the US Department of Education argued that resorting to executive action to cancel federal student loan debt would exceed the power granted to the president by Congress under of the Law on Higher Education.
Biden has expressed skepticism about the power to unilaterally write off student debt, saying last month that it would be “unlikely” to do so, and he has not publicly supported the forgiveness of $ 50,000 in student loans, calling for instead at a lower discount amount.
But Biden never completely took the problem off the table. And today’s White House press secretary’s statement suggests that the administration is actively considering its options, even though officials insist their preference would be for a bill from Congress.