Congressional Democrats on Thursday reintroduced a resolution calling on President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt via executive action—the initiative has been a major priority for progressives for months, but there’s no guarantee Biden will move it forward.
KEY FACTS: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and more than 50 other lawmakers signed onto the resolution.
Schumer, Warren, and other progressives have argued that Biden has the authority to use executive power to cancel loans without approval from Congress, but lawyers from the Trump administration have previously said that the move would be illegal.
Last fall, Schumer and Warren cited an analysis from Harvard Law School which concluded that the president is legally allowed to direct the Secretary of Education to cancel federal student loan debt without separate approval from Congress.
Warren said Thursday that she estimates the measure would cost about $650 billion, but added that cancellation would be a “big positive” for the economy in the long run.
CRUCIAL QUOTE: “Cancelling student loan debt is the single most effective executive action that President Biden can take to kickstart the economy,” Warren said during a press briefing on Thursday. “Canceling student loan debt is good for you, whether you have student loan debt or not, because it is good for our economy.”
BIG NUMBER: $1.5 trillion. That’s how much federal student loan borrowers owed in total as of September 2020. The lawmakers noted that a disproportionate portion of that debt burden falls on people of color.
KEY BACKGROUND: The Biden administration has called on Congress to pass legislation that would forgive federal student loan debt, but only up to $10,000. The sweeping $1.9 trillion rescue plan he proposed does include not this provision. On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order extending forbearance on federal student loans through the end of September. “President Biden has taken some good steps in the direction of student debt but we think he has to go much further,” Schumer said Thursday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Asked about Biden’s stance on student loan cancelation during a briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden “has and continues to support canceling $10,000 of federal student loan debt per person.” Psaki added: “He already took a step through an executive action on his first day and he would look to Congress to take the next step.”
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