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Lawmakers Put Pressure on Ed Department for Student Debt Relief

June 16, 2022
 
 

Democrats and Republicans are putting pressure on the Biden administration to clarify many questions regarding his plan to cancel student debt. Republicans are asking for specific information regarding the president’s legal authority to cancel student debt, while Democrats are requesting information on plans for the execution of Biden’s impending decision on whether to cancel at least some student debt.

A coalition of 55 Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Miguel Cardona, education secretary, on Wednesday demanding specific information on what plans the Education Department has in place to ensure there are no “unnecessary roadblocks and obligations” when Biden moves forward with his debt relief plan, which is now expected in late summer.

On the other hand, Senator Richard Burr, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Virginia Foxx, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, both from North Carolina, wrote a letter to Cardona Wednesday requesting the department give them explicit proof of legal authority for various actions the administration has so far taken to address student debt.

The Democrats’ letter, led by Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, said, “The American public will depend on your agency’s ability to deliver debt cancellation quickly and efficiently, no matter the effort and resources required.

“We would like a comprehensive timeline for implementing the cancellation including when your agency plans to begin cancelling these loans and when you expect the process of cancelling loans under the executive order to be completed,” the letter continued.

Democrats asked for specific plans the administration has to communicate with borrowers and loan servicers to ensure eligible borrowers will have access to any final program on debt cancellation.

Republicans have asked the Education Department to clarify what statutory power the Biden administration has used to implement 14 executive actions on student debt. These actions include the creation and extension of the student loan repayment pause, which has been in place since March 2020; the establishment of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver; and the discharge of $5.8 billion in student loans held by former Corinthian Colleges students, among others.

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