Senate Republicans are moving forward with legislation to repeal President Joe Biden’s signature student loan forgiveness initiative. And it may attract some Democratic support, increasing the chances that it could pass Congress.
Here’s the latest.
Supreme Court Is Deciding Whether To Uphold Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Initiative
Biden announced his unprecedented plan to enact mass student loan forgiveness last year. The program, if it is allowed to proceed, would provide up to 40 million borrowers with $10,000 in federal student loan cancellation, or up to $20,000 if they received a Pell Grant for their education. Over half of potentially eligible borrowers applied — and millions were approved — before the plan was blocked by federal courts as Republican states and conservative-leaning groups launched legal challenges.
The Biden administration appealed those federal court rulings to the United States Supreme Court, which held a historic hearing last month. Top officials have publicly expressed confidence that the program is legal. But with a majority of justices on the court expressing skepticism of the program’s legality during oral arguments, the decision may ultimately turn on the issue of “standing” — whether the challengers are able to demonstrate a sufficiently concrete and direct injury as a result of Biden’s plan that would allow them to sue in the first place. A ruling is expected this summer.
Republicans Unveil Resolution Repealing Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
Earlier this month, in response to a decision by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is subject to congressional review, House and Senate Republicans announced that they would not wait for the Supreme Court to rule. Instead, they would try to repeal the plan legislatively.
This week, Senate Republicans unveiled a draft joint resolution doing just that. “Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to ‘Waivers and Modifications of Federal Student Loans’ (including the website announcement entitled ‘One-Time Federal Student Loan Debt Relief’…)” reads the solution referring to the GAO decision. “Such rule shall have no force or effect.” The resolution has 38 original cosponsors.
Republicans are filing the joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act, a statute that allows Congress to strike down newly-issued rules and regulations established by a presidential administration. A joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act can pass Congress with simple majorities in both the House and the Senate through an expedited process, and is not subject to a Senate filibuster.
Chances Of Student Loan Forgiveness Repeal Passing Congress Increase, But It Still Faces Uphill Battle
The joint resolution repealing Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan could easily pass the House, where Republican hold a narrow majority and largely control the legislative process.
In the Senate, things get more complicated. Democrats hold a slim majority there, making passage more difficult for Republicans. However, assuming all Republicans vote for the measure, it would take just two Democrats to join them for the resolution to pass. At least one Democrat, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), has expressed openness to joining Republicans, telling CNN and the Wall Street Journal, “I disagree with President Biden’s executive action on student loans because it doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable.” Several other moderate Senate Democrats have also had tepid responses to Biden’s initiative and the concept of mass student loan forgiveness.
Even if several Democrats join Republicans to allow the repeal measure to pass both the House and the Senate, however, President Biden would still have to sign the resolution for the repeal to become law. That is not a likely scenario. Instead, Biden is far more likely to veto the measure.
Congress could, in theory, override Biden’s veto. But doing so would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. Even if several Democrats join Republicans in passing the measure, two-thirds is a high hurdle to clear when the chambers are nearly evenly split.
Further Student Loan Forgiveness Reading
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Potential Student Loan Forgiveness Loophole Could Cause Problems And Confusion For Consolidating Borrowers
Student Loan Forgiveness: Whether Biden Extends Payment Pause Again May Depend On Supreme Court Ruling
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