The path to federal student loan forgiveness faces another unexpected challenge. On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced joint legislation with the intent of stopping the Biden Administration’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. The resolution would be filed under the Congressional Review Act, which allows congress to combat newly-issued rules and regulations from a presidential administration. A Congressional Review Act filed joint resolution can be passed without a Senate filibuster and with simple majorities in the House & Senate in an expedited process.
This move by the Senate Republicans comes on the heels of the Supreme Court oral arguments regarding the Biden Administration Student Loan Forgiveness plan that occurred on February 28th. The Supreme Court heard arguments for Biden v. Nebraska & U.S. Department of Education v. Brown, with the basis of the hearing being if the Department Of Education can do a sweeping cancellation of federal student loan debt and if petitioners have the legal standing to challenge the student debt relief plan. As we reported last Fall, the Biden Administration is arguing that the Student Loan Forgiveness plan can be enacted by the Secretary Of Education Miguel Cardona via the 2003 HEROES Act, which allows the Secretary of Education to waive/modify loans in the case of a national emergency. Republican detractors argue that the federal government doesn’t have the power for unilateral federal student loan relief. The program was paused by in lower federal courts due to the two aforementioned cases.
The legislation is guaranteed to pass the U.S. House Of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 222-213 majority. However, the Democrats retained control of the senate 51-49 by flipping the once Republican Pennsylvania seat currently occupied by Sen. John Fetterman and retaining Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Georgia Senate seat. The legislation could stall in the senate but Senate Republicans would only need two Democrats to vote in favor of the joint legislation.
Still, if the Republicans do get the measure to pass the House & Senate, it will head to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. President Biden will certainly veto the legislation. To override the President’s veto, Republicans would need a two thirds majority in both the House & Senate. That is unlikely to occur with the current makeup of Congress. However, the action signals that Republican leaders look to use legislative action to foil passage of the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan, which would forgive up to $20,000 for federal loan borrowers.
This also signals that, pending the Supreme Court voting in favor of the Biden Administration’s plan, that this will be a hot-button issue heading into 2024’s election season. 34 Senate seats (23 Held By Democrats) and all 435 House Seats are up for vote in 2024 as well as the Presidency. A shift in either party’s direction would signal a lot on the viability of Student Loan Forgiveness in the future.
Secretary Cardona responded to the legislation, saying in a statement, “Republicans in Congress represent millions of borrowers who have applied for student debt relief. It’s a shame for these borrowers—the overwhelming majority of whom make less than $75,000 a year—and their families that their representatives are working so hard to deny them critical relief. Instead of working to support hardworking students and borrowers, Republicans in Congress would rather give trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the super wealthy and the biggest corporations. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to fight to deliver much-needed support to borrowers trying to get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.”
We will continue to update you on this story as more information is presented.
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