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Borrower-Defense Veto Override Fails

June 29, 2020
 
 

Opponents of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's rule making it more difficult for those who have been defrauded by their colleges to have their student loans forgiven are looking to the courts to block the measure after suffering a defeat in Congress Friday.

In a victory for DeVos, the Democratic House failed to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a bill that would have undone DeVos’s controversial borrower-defense rule.

Both the House and Senate had passed a resolution to block DeVos’s rule from going into effect for new borrowers on July 1, but it was vetoed by Trump. Six Republicans joined Democrats Friday as a majority of the House voted for the override, 238-173. But it fell short of getting the necessary two-thirds support to pass.

“We look forward to implementing the Administration’s borrower defense rule on July 1 that protects students from fraud, treats higher education institutions fairly and protects taxpayers,” an Education Department spokeswoman said after the vote.

The vote, however, was largely symbolic. Even supporters did not expect it to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

The action now moves to the courts. Consumer groups looked to a federal lawsuit in New York brought in February by the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen Litigation Group on behalf of the New York Legal Assistance Group.

“The 2019 borrower defense rule will make it nearly impossible for cheated borrowers to get the loan cancellation they are legally owed -- which is exactly what Secretary DeVos intended,” Eileen Connor, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, said in a statement on Friday. “Congress had an opportunity to stand up for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, but they refused.”

“Congress and President Trump had the chance to stand with Americans struggling against fraud, corruption and bureaucratic red tape, but instead they walked away,” said Persis Yu, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, another group that has opposed the rule.

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