House Republicans are demanding an oversight hearing on President Joe Biden’s student loan relief plan, which would cancel $10,000 to $20,000 of student loan debt for millions of borrowers, claiming the plan is illegal, unfair, and chaotic.
Republicans of the House Education and Labor Committee, led by ranking member Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), signed onto a letter to Chair Bobby Scott (D-Va.), urging him to convene a hearing to discuss Biden’s legal authority for the debt relief, how the Department of Education (ED) will implement the relief, and any plans ED has to end the student loan repayment pause.
“This is not a harmless policy; this is a deliberate decision to appease a small but loud special interest group at the expense of the people who work hard to keep this nation strong,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “It is time to shed the party loyalty and stand up for all the citizens in this nation. This must begin with Congressional oversight over dubious executive actions.”
The lawmakers are requesting Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray, General Counsel Lisa Brown, and ED Under Secretary James Kvaal testify during the hearing. They also state that they’ve sent letters to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona but have received “paltry responses.”
Additionally, the lawmakers want student loan servicers to testify before the committee to understand what information ED is giving federal contractors, what ED has instructed servicers to tell borrowers, and how much ED is listening to servicers’ feedback.
The lawmakers also criticized the rollout of Biden’s announcement, stating “there was no information on how or when the process for forgiveness or the new income repayment plan will happen.” NASFAA also this week sent a letter to ED and FSA, calling on the department to meet with NASFAA’s leadership to better coordinate on partnership initiatives, and also criticized the department for the lack of information available at the time of the announcement.
“Again, with proper advance notice and adequate guidance, financial aid administrators could have found a way to ‘do it all’ during this busy time, as they always do,” NASFAA’s letter said. “Instead, they are forced to passively react, fielding questions they can’t answer and leaving students frustrated and confused.”
Earlier this week, ED released more guidance on eligible loans and other frequently asked questions regarding the relief.
“This student loan debt scheme is not a legal or responsible policy, and the chaos the administration has created is unacceptable,” the lawmakers wrote.
GOP lawmakers, attorneys general, and conservative groups have criticized Biden’s announcement, with some, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), even pursuing lawsuits, alleging that Biden’s move to cancel student debt is illegal.
When the Biden administration announced the student loan debt relief last month, the administration also released a memo that outlines the administration’s authority to offer broad student loan forgiveness. The memo states that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities For Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 provides the secretary of education “broad authority to grant relief from student loan requirements during specific periods (a war, other military operation, or national emergency, such as the present COVID-19 pandemic).” The memo also rescinds a non-binding memo from the Trump administration that claimed the education secretary “does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation.”
Scott has yet to publicly address the GOP letter, but praised Biden’s announcement last month, saying it was “providing unprecedented relief for America’s student loan borrowers.” While Republicans don’t currently control either chamber of Congress, should they win back the majority in this fall’s midterm elections, an oversight hearing could happen when the 118th Congress comes into session.
Publication Date: 9/9/2022