How Senate Republicans could tank Biden’s student loan forgiveness program this week

Jim Risch, Rob Portman, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, flanked by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference about Ukraine on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

How Senate Republicans could tank Biden’s student loan forgiveness program this week

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A crew of Republicans is gearing up for a bid to dismantle President Joe Biden‘s student loan forgiveness program, possibly as early as this week.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and John Cornyn (R-TX) are preparing to bring forth a resolution that would overturn the student loan forgiveness program, which is tangled up in the courts. Biden is widely expected to veto the measure if it makes it to his desk, but the bill would put Democrats on the spot.

GOP PLAN TO OVERTURN BIDEN STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS COULD ATTRACT DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT

“President Biden’s student loan scheme does not ‘forgive’ debt, it just transfers the burden from those who willingly took out loans to those who never went to college, or sacrificed to pay their loans off,” Cassidy said in a statement about the program.

The GOP trio is seeking to tap into powers under the Congressional Review Act, which permits Congress to nix regulations within a set time frame. Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office determined the program qualifies as a procedure subject to the Congressional Review Act, laying the groundwork for the bill.

On the heels of that GAO finding, the three announced plans to bring forth a resolution tapping into those powers to undercut the forgiveness plan. Biden unveiled the sweeping student loan cancellation program last August.

Under his plan, borrowers with an annual income of $125,000 or less will see up to $10,000 in federal student loans wiped out, while those who received Pell Grants during their schooling can have up to $20,000 erased. The plan utilizes the 2003 HEROES Act, which grants the executive power to relieve student loan debt in times of national emergency or war.

Republicans appear keen on exposing fractures within the Democratic coalition on student loans. Progressives, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have roundly applauded the measure, but more centrist members, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), have been apprehensive.

“I’ll review the full text of the CRA when it is released, but like I said before, I disagree with President Biden’s executive action on student loans because it doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable,” Cortez Masto told the Wall Street Journal.

A lower court in Texas halted the program last November. The White House revealed it garnered roughly 26 million applications and approved 16 million for relief, but cancellation has not yet taken place amid the legal squabbling. The Supreme Court is expected to make a determination on the program’s legitimacy by June or July.

Critics have pointed to the fact that Biden declared the COVID-19 pandemic was “over” in a 60 Minutes interview last year but the pandemic was thought to be an underpinning of the use of the HEROES Act for the forgiveness program.

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Should the high court strike down the initiative, the Biden administration may be able to bring forward a new iteration of the student loan forgiveness plan in hopes that a new framework could muster court challenges.

Biden used his veto power for the first time last week to reject a resolution that would’ve scrapped a Labor Department rule allowing for retirement plans to consider environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, in investment decisions.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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