The House Education and Workforce Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation that would overturn President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and end the pause on federal student loan payments.
The legislation, which advanced on a party line vote of 24-18, was first introduced as a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in late March by Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), with more than 40 cosponsors, including committee Chair Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, and cosponsored by 37 other senators.
The CRA has been utilized throughout previous sessions of Congress to overturn agency rules and earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that Biden’s student loan debt cancellation plan can be subject to a CRA.
At Wednesday’s markup hearing, Foxx argued that Biden’s student loan cancellation plan would cost taxpayers an estimated $315 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and that the Biden administration’s proposed income-driven repayment rules and “other expansive regulations” could cost as much as $1 trillion.
“For two years, President Biden has attempted to push a free college agenda through radical regulations including income-driven repayment, executive actions like blanket cancellation, and his permanent pause on repayment,” Foxx said during the markup. “Student loan forgiveness is nothing more than a transfer of wealth from those who willingly took on debt to those who did not or had the grit to pay off their loans.”
However, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), ranking member of the House education committee, said the legislation “would almost be impossible to implement,” warning that the legislation could mean that borrowers would be responsible for the payments they didn’t make and added interest during the student loan payment pause.
“Even if you don’t like the student loan relief, it would be impossible to implement because — first of all — you don’t get to pick and choose in a Congressional Review Act which parts of the rule you are overturning,” Scott said during the markup. “You have to overturn the whole rule — one of which was the pause in payments. This would force people to begin their payments as if the rule had not passed — that’s October in 2022. If this thing were to pass, everybody would instantaneously be about eight months in arrears. And the interest would also be added back to their payments.”
According to a review from the Congressional Research Service, if the CRA resolution is enacted, Biden’s student loan cancellation plan and the pause on student loan payments “shall be treated as though such rule had never taken effect.”
Foxx responded, saying that Democrats and “radical” advocacy groups have put out “untruthful claims” about the CRA resolution to “scare” student loan borrowers. She added that there is no historical precedent that would mean borrowers would be responsible to make payments retroactively for the time student loan payments were paused.
“I want to be clear, nothing in this bill requires the Department of Education to break down the doors of borrowers, like Biden's IRS army, and force borrowers to make retroactive payments,” Foxx said. “And nothing in this bill directs the department to take away the months spent in forbearance that count towards programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”
The legislation now moves to the House floor for a vote. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Senate CRA resolution has not received any action from the Senate HELP committee.
Publication Date: 5/11/2023