House Republicans are moving forward with a plan that would reverse student loan forgiveness approvals for millions of borrowers, setting up a showdown with Congressional Democrats and President Biden. The plan would repeal Biden’s signature student debt relief program, and would reverse the most recent extension of the student loan pause.
Here’s the latest.
GOP Plan Would Repeal Student Loan Forgiveness And Reverse Student Loan Pause Extension
Congressional Republicans will hold a key committee hearing this week to advance legislation under the Congressional Review Act, a federal statute that permits Congress to nullify recently-enacted regulations. Congressional Review Act resolutions can pass Congress with simple majorities, and would not be subject to a Senate filibuster (which typically requires at least 60 senators to overcome).
The Congressional Review Act legislation at issue here would repeal Biden’s one-time student loan forgiveness plan, which would cancel $10,000 or $20,000 in federal student loans for over 30 million borrowers. That debt relief plan has been blocked by federal courts since last fall in response to legal challenges. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the program in June.
The legislation would also reverse Biden’s most recent extension of the student loan pause, which has now been ongoing for over three years. The student loan pause has stopped most federal student loan payments and suspended interest accrual for government-held federal student loans. The current extension is set to end later this summer.
“Since his first day in office, President Biden has worked to circumvent the courts and congressional authority to provide backdoor free college through the student loan program. The president is leveraging the nation’s financial future with his radical agenda that, taken together, could end up costing taxpayers nearly $1 trillion,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) in a statement this week. “This is why it’s so important for Congress to pass this resolution and remind the president that he cannot act unilaterally like a dictator to get his way.”
Foxx’s committee will hold a markup hearing on the legislation on Wednesday, a key step in the legislative process to advance the plan.
Advocates Warn GOP Plan Would Reverse Student Loan Forgiveness
While no borrowers have received student loan forgiveness under Biden’s one-time student debt relief plan, the Education Department had approved over 16 million borrowers before the application process was halted in response to legal challenges. If the Republican-led plan is successful, those 16 million approvals would be reversed.
In addition, borrower advocates are warning that repealing Biden’s most recent extension of the student loan pause could actually result in the reversal of student loan forgiveness already approved for tens of thousands of borrowers. The student loan pause can count as qualifying periods toward loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and Income-Driven Repayment plans. Borrowers who received student loan forgiveness based on credit from Biden’s most recent extension of the student loan pause could have their student loan forgiveness reversed, and their loan balances reinstated, if the Congressional Review Act resolution is successful.
“If enacted, the extreme partisan proposal would also result in chaos for military families, educators, first responders, and other public service workers in communities across the country,” said the Student Borrower Protection Center in a statement. “Because the pandemic-era pause on student loan payments provided months of credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), this proposal would force [the Education Department] to claw back months of progress towards PSLF and Income-Driven Repayment relief and even reinstate already-cancelled debts for more than 156,000 public service workers.”
This week, a coalition of over 260 organizations sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to reject the Republican-led plan.
“Overturning the payment pause and forcing borrowers into immediate repayment would have a devastating effect on borrowers in every community,” warned the the coalition. “The American people, the law, and the economic instability of the present moment all emphasize the necessity of debt cancellation and the continuation of the payment pause until cancellation is realized. Policymakers now seeking to reverse such critical relief through the CRA are ignoring the economic needs of their own constituents and threatening our nation’s financial security. Congress should be acting to improve the circumstances of the American people, not attempting to thwart the President’s efforts to ease the financial pressure that so many are feeling.”
Will Efforts To Repeal Student Loan Forgiveness Succeed?
The Congressional Review Act resolution could very well pass in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a slim majority. And the resolution even stands a chance in the Senate. While Democrats maintain a slim majority in that chamber, it would just take two Democratic senators to join Republicans for the effort to succeed. And at least some moderate Democrats in the Senate have expressed skepticism about Biden’s student loan debt relief initiatives.
However, even if the resolution passes Congress, President Biden would have to sign it for it to become law — something he is not likely to do. Congress could override Biden’s expected veto, but with a nearly evenly-divided Congress, a two-thirds majority needed for an override would be difficult to achieve and would require substantial Democratic defections.
But the Congressional Review Act resolution is just one of several Republican-led efforts to undo Biden’s student loan debt relief plans. House Republicans are also demanding a reversal of student loan forgiveness programs in negotiations with President Biden over the debt ceiling. And the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the one-time student loan forgiveness plan next month.
Further Student Loan Forgiveness Reading
Biden Administration Announces $42 Billion In Student Loan Forgiveness As Public Service Relief Continues
To Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness Under Adjustment, Do These Things, Says Education Department
The Student Loan Pause May End In Phases, With Some Features Extended — Key Updates On Timing
What The Supreme Court’s Latest Move Means For Student Loan Forgiveness
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