Senate Republicans Want to Overturn Biden’s Student Debt Cancellation Plan

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

Republicans are turning to a new legislative tool in an effort to rescind President Joe Biden’s student loan debt cancellation plan, which is currently stalled as the United States Supreme Court considers lawsuits challenging the program.

On Friday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, announced that he and a group of Republican senators would be introducing a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would overturn the Department of Education’s (ED) ability to offer up to $10,000 in relief to federal student loan borrowers making up to $125,000 and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.

The CRA has been utilized throughout previous sessions of Congress to overturn agency rules and was successfully used at the outset of President Donald Trump’s administration — when Republicans gained control of Congress — to prevent the implementation of Obama-era regulations related to teacher preparation programs.

The legislative tool only requires a simple majority in each chamber and is a streamlined way for Congress to nullify agency rulemaking issued in the preceding six months.

The current effort from Senate Republicans follows the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirming that the student loan debt cancellation policy is classified as a rule, and thus can be subject to a CRA.

“Where is the relief for the man who skipped college but is paying off his work truck, or the woman who paid off her loans and is now struggling to afford her mortgage?” Cassidy said, raising similar points heard during oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court. “This resolution prevents these Americans, whose debts look different from the favored group the Biden administration has selected, from picking up the bill for this irresponsible and unfair policy.”

ED pushed back on the arguments raised by Senate Republicans and said that the administration's program offers targeted relief.

“It’s a shame for working families across the country that Republican lawmakers continue to fight tooth and nail to deny critical relief to millions of their own constituents impacted by the pandemic,” a department spokesperson said. “President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary Cardona recognize how essential this relief is for tens of millions of working families, and they will continue fighting to deliver much-needed support to borrowers trying to get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.”

In order for the CRA to take effect, the measure would need to be signed by the president or garner enough support to overturn a presidential veto.


Publication Date: 3/20/2023

Yolanda T | 3/21/2023 3:6:34 PM

Senate Republicans should be coming up with an alternative plan instead of trying to derail the current debt cancellation plan.

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