Lawyers and lawmakers are stepping up pressure on President BidenJoe Biden McConnell: Rounds ‘Told the Truth’ About 2020 Election Abrams Thanks Biden for Speech in Georgia, Supports Senate Rule Change Call to act on student loan cancellation, focusing on this major issue, some warn Democrats could pay at the polls in the upcoming midterm elections.
Biden has been called upon to work with Congress on the issue and provide more transparency on his power to write off all federal student debt for millions of Americans. The extension of the student loan repayment hiatus once again amid record peaks in COVID-19 cases has made advocates optimistic that more shares will come out of the White House.
“I think the administration needs to engage more with Congress on this because I think there is real concern,” the senator said. Bob caseyRobert (Bob) Patrick Casey Senate Democrats become less confident in the press of Manchin Senate Democrats for information on nursing home boosters (D-Pa.) Told The Hill.
Large-scale student loan cancellation won support from Democratic leaders as Senate Majority Leader Charles schumerChuck SchumerClyburn on Election Law Update: “What is true today was not then then” Biden praises Reid as a fighter “for the America we all love “Like it or not, all the way forward for Democrats goes through Joe Manchin MORE (DN.Y.), who are looking to Biden for support on the issue as the party prepares for a critical election year.
“The pressure is mounting on all fronts. It goes up from the grassroots, it goes up from the audience and it goes up from members of Congress. And the reality of the economy, in the medium term, there are several pressures that align. They really have to deliver, ”said Thomas Gokey, organizer of Debt Collective.
Federal student loan payments were first suspended under a moratorium enacted under the then.President TrumpDonald Trump McConnell: Rounds ‘Told the Truth’ About 2020 Election Abrams Thanks Biden for Speech in Georgia, Supports Call for Senate Rules Change Kerik to Sit for a ‘Voluntary Interview’ with the panel of January 6, says lawyer PLUS in March 2020. The freeze has been extended several times since under the Trump and Biden administrations.
Biden last extended the suspension last month amid a mountain of pressure from progressives and borrowers to drop the previously set Jan.31 date to lift forbearance on student loans. At the time, Biden extended the temporary hiatus on federal student loans and accrued interest until early May.
A White House spokesperson told The Hill that the extension was recognition “that while our job recovery is one of the strongest on record, millions of student loan borrowers still face financial challenges. impacts of the pandemic and need more time before resuming payments “.
The extension marked a short-term victory for advocates who had urged Biden to extend the moratorium on the pandemic, while highlighting the upsurge in coronavirus cases fueled by the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.
But the action did little to quell numerous appeals from progressives who urged the president for months to go further and use his executive branch to unilaterally write off student loan debt.
“If he has the power to suspend student loan payments, he has the power to cancel, and he has run on the cancellation of at least $ 10,000,” said Representative Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y .) at The Hill. “We’re pushing him to cancel it completely, and that’s what we hope he decides to do.”
Natalia Abrams, president and founder of the Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC) warned of the political implications of Biden’s resuming loan repayments in an election year.
“It’s definitely a strange middle ground extending this break. If he continues to extend the payment break until they are ready to cancel student debt, then everything will be fine. Rather than activating mid-term payments when borrowers are not ready, ”she said.
During his 2020 presidential run, Biden campaigned on forgiveness at least $ 10,000 in federal student loans per person.
The Debt Collective has warned that if Biden does not forgive up to $ 50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower, which progressives have called for, he will lose voters, citing conversations with local borrowers.
“It’s not just the mid-term, it’s about the rest of their life,” Gokey said. “A Democrat couldn’t be elected dog catcher if he reactivates student loan payments.”
But as Main Democrats continue to call on Biden to increase or eliminate student loan debt altogether, disagreements have also erupted over whether the president has the power to do so through executive action. .
Lawmakers and lawyers have waited months to see a note Biden requested from the Education Department in April to determine his power to write off student debt.
“I don’t know why it would be held on for so long,” Abrams said. “It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on, we should all see it in terms of transparency and that way borrowers and lawmakers can move forward in a proper way.”
When asked if the Education Department was done with the memo requested by the president, a spokesperson for the agency said he was working with the White House to “consider options regarding the debt cancellation “.
“It’s interesting to me that they don’t even recognize that they have the memo, that they are sitting there,” Gokey said, adding that he believed the president had the power to cancel student loans. .
The White House, when asked to comment on the memo, highlighted actions the administration has taken, such as providing nearly $ 13 billion in targeted loan relief to more than 640,000 borrowers and $ 5.8 billion. dollars to permanently disabled borrowers.
A spokesperson said the White House “will propose regulatory improvements to income-tested repayment, defending borrowers against repayment and closing schools” over the coming weeks and months.
But more than eight months since the note was requested by the White House, patience has dwindled among many borrowers ahead of the next May deadline, worrying lawmakers.
“I think they want to make sure they go through all the Ts and point all the I’s because they know there will be a lot of political hindsight on this… I understand their apprehension, but they have to move on. at some point each time they get a clear determination, ”the rep said. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoOvernight Defense & National Security – Nation marks 1 year since Capitol Riot Hispanic Democrats slammed Republicans in January 6 ad campaign Gallego tears Garland “inept” in January 6 response MORE (D-Arizona) told The Hill.
Senator Raphael WarnockRaphael Warnock Republicans threaten to seize power if Democrats weaken filibuster Juan Williams: American democracy will die if voting rights are not protected Democrats skeptical of McConnell’s offer to talk about election law MORE (D-Ga.) Echoed calls from lawyers pushing for widespread student debt forgiveness as a way to help “close the racial wealth gap,” as data showed borrowers colored, above all Black and Hispanic graduates bear a disproportionate burden.
“If we could get a student debt cancellation program, I think it would go a long way,” he said. “I think it would be a huge boost to the personal savings of these borrowers, but it would be a huge boost to the economy.”
Research published by the Brookings Institution in 2016 showed that black and Hispanic graduates owe more on average than white graduates and are more likely to default within four years of graduation.
A May 2021 analysis of the American Association of University Women also found that black women had about 20% more student debt than white women, carrying a greater debt burden than other women of color.
Last year a Color of Change Survey published in February found that 84% of black voters, a voting bloc that was critical in helping Biden win the election in 2020, support full or partial debt cancellation. The poll also found that 40% of black voters said they would not support a candidate who does not support the elimination of student debt.
Other polls also indicated that the popularity of pushing for some form of student debt cancellation has grown. A recent poll published by Morning Consult / Politicoin in December, more than 60% of voters polled support the cancellation of student debt.