Schumer keeps pressure on Biden to write off $ 50,000 in student loan debt

(CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer keeps the pressure on President Joe Biden to write off $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt.

The New York Democrat said on Monday that the Justice Department is currently conducting a legal review to find out whether Biden has the authority to issue a blanket student debt cancellation.

But Biden has repeatedly resisted calls from Schumer and other Democrats like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to write off $ 50,000 per student borrower – which is very clear during a CNN town hall last month that he does not support the idea.

Biden expressed support for the cancellation of $ 10,000 per borrower, but argued that the government should not cancel the debt of people who went to “Harvard and Yale and Penn”.

He also said he believed Congress should make changes through legislation, which would make them more difficult to overturn – although White House press secretary Jen Psaki said open to the examination of an executive option.

When asked on Monday whether Congress should take the first step, Schumer argued that it would take too long and that there were many other key priorities right now that the Senate is focusing on.

“I think it will be much more difficult to do legally. We haven’t seen our fellow Republicans jump at this opportunity, ”he said on a press call with his colleagues Warren and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Long-standing debate

More progressive members of the Democratic Party have been calling for student debt cancellation for years.

Warren and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders offered forgiveness plans when they ran for the Democratic presidential primary. Biden presented a policy proposal to forgive $ 10,000 per borrower only after the pandemic began and he was the alleged candidate.

Lawmakers introduced a similar resolution last year that called on the Trump administration to write off student loan debt – but former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called the proposal a “giveaway from the government.”

House Democrats included a provision to write off $ 10,000 per borrower in a sweeping Covid relief bill passed in May that was never picked up by the then Republican-led Senate.

The Covid Relief Bill that Biden enacted last week includes a provision that would make any future student debt forgiveness tax-free – but has refrained from forgiving the debt.

Payment deferrals extend until September

In one of his first acts in power, Biden extended the break on student loan payments and interest, a Covid relief benefit put in place by Congress last year that had already been renewed by the Trump administration. Federal student loan borrowers will not be required to make payments until October 1 at the earliest.

It also supports making community colleges free for everyone, making four-year public colleges free for students from families earning less than $ 125,000 a year, and modifying the existing system to ensure that student loan repayments are more affordable.

A blanket forgiveness of federal student loan debt would be unprecedented. But one note lawyers from Harvard Legal Services Center and its Predatory Student Loans Project say the Education Department has the power to do so.

The ministry has already put in place more targeted debt cancellation policies. It clears the debt of defrauded students as well as disabled veterans. Biden could provide relief to hundreds of thousands of additional borrowers just by expanding these programs, according to the National Student Legal Defense Network.

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