The House Republicans have succeeded in passing a resolution to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief plan, which would provide up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness to borrowers. The measure, proposed by Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), seeks to terminate the pandemic-era student loan payment pause and cancel the potential relief for 40 million borrowers. The Biden plan, which is also subject to the conservative-leaning Supreme Court, could cost around $400 billion. Two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.), joined Republicans in supporting the move.
The resolution against the program, which the White House threatens to veto, was brought under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to suspend executive actions taken by the president. This move was only recently put on the table after the Government Accountability Office said Biden’s plan was subject to the act. Even though the victory is good news for Republicans, it will be an uphill battle to pass the measure in the Senate. Democrats hold the majority in the upper chamber, although centrists, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have previously criticized Biden’s student debt relief.
The Congressional Budget Office recently said that if the measure were passed, it would reduce the deficit by around $320 billion over ten years. “This resolution is an unprecedented attempt to undercut our historic economic recovery and would deprive more than 40 million hard-working Americans of much-needed student debt relief,” the administration said in a statement.
Before the vote, a House Education and Workforce investment subcommittee held a hearing with two top Education Department officials about the Biden administration’s student loan policies. The hearing focused on all the different actions the Biden administration has taken regarding student loans, such as changing income-driven repayments and proposing a gainful employment rule.
Democrats raised concerns during the hearing that the CRA measure, if passed, would make borrowers retroactively pay back the interest for when their student loans were on pause in the past three years. Republicans say that would not happen and that the concern is overblown. “I’ve seen different legal opinions about whether it is retroactive or exactly how it would affect borrowers, but I think it is clear that it would be very disruptive and very confusing and make it challenging for borrowers to return to repayment successfully,” Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal said during the hearing.
Republicans used the time during the hearing to point out how much the debt relief would cost the American taxpayer. “The actions of the Biden administration alone have cost more than the federal government has spent on higher education over its entire pre-pandemic history, $744 billion from 1962 to 2019,” said Rep. Erin Houchin (R-Ind.).
The arguments did not stop at the hearing. During the ensuing floor debate, Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) said Republicans used “bigoted logic” in their opposition to Biden’s student loan plan. “If we legislated using the logic that you bring to this issue here today, women and Black folks wouldn’t have the right to vote because it would be unfair to those who never got to vote before them,” Frost said. “See, if we legislated using your logic that because there was an injustice, we can’t fix it because it’s unfair to those who never had it fixed, it means we would never progress on any issue in this country. Why do you bring that bigoted logic to this issue as it relates to students but not any other issue?” he added. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, responded by demanding that Frost’s words be taken down. Frost then withdrew the comment.
The measure adds another layer of attack to Biden’s student debt relief, as the plan is also under fire at the Supreme Court, where the administration awaits a ruling on the legality of the relief from the conservative-leaning court.
Biden’s plan aims to provide relief to millions of Americans who are struggling with student loan debt, which is crippling their finances. The plan is a much-needed relief for most of the students who have to pay back their loans in a time when job availability is scarce, and many are struggling to make ends meet. Many students would be able to pay off their loans faster, which would put more money in their pockets and boost the economy in return.
The Republican opposition to the debt relief is based on the fact that it will cost taxpayers a lot of money. However, the cost of not providing relief and leaving millions of Americans with mounting debt is also high, as it will hurt the economy in the long run. Furthermore, the Biden administration has said that the plan would reduce the deficit, and it would free up money for other important initiatives.