The House by a vote of 218-203 advanced legislation that would overturn President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and end the pause on federal student loan payments.
The measure — first introduced as a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in March — now heads to an uncertain fate in the Senate, where more moderate Democrats may be pressured to take a position on the administration’s debt cancellation program. Since the bill is being considered as a CRA, the Senate will be forced to vote on the measure, which only requires a simple majority to clear the chamber.
During Wednesday’s session, Republicans were successful in peeling off just two Democrats in this first vote to singularly target the program. House Republicans as a part of their debt limit legislation included provisions targeting the student loan portfolio, but were only able to pass that bill by an incredibly narrow margin, with no Democrats supporting the measure.
In order for the CRA to take effect, the bill would need to be signed by the president or garner enough support to overturn a presidential veto, which would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said the legislation served as an important action to prevent the administration from carrying out student loan cancellation through executive overreach.
“Coupled with the permanent repayment pause, expansive new regulations, and a radical new income-driven repayment plan, the Biden administration’s student loan scam could end up costing taxpayers $1 trillion,” Foxx said. “That’s more than the federal government has ever spent on postsecondary education.”
In contrast, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, argued that if the bill were to become law, it would trigger a “wave” of delinquencies and defaults, particularly for vulnerable populations, due to the retroactive nature of the rule.
“My Republican colleagues refuse to acknowledge the serious questions that have been raised about how the resolution would actually be implemented — because, under a Congressional Review Act resolution, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of a rule you are overturning,” Scott said. “You have to overturn the whole rule — including the pause in student loan payments and the deferral of interest.”
The White House has already stated its opposition to the legislation, so even if the resolution was able to clear the Senate it remains highly unlikely that it would go into effect, as Republicans would be unable to garner enough votes to override a veto in either chamber.
In the meantime, the future of the student loan debt cancellation program will hinge on a decision from the United States Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks.
Publication Date: 5/25/2023