Two Democratic senators, along with a former Democratic colleague, voted with Republicans to repeal President Joe Biden’s sweeping student loan forgiveness plan. Although Democrats control the Senate, the three defections allowed the GOP-led repeal effort to pass.
The measure now heads to President Biden, who has promised to veto it.
Bill Would Repeal Student Loan Forgiveness And Reverse Student Loan Pause
The bill, passed under the Congressional Review Act, would repeal Biden’s signature student loan forgiveness plan, which would provide $10,000 or $20,000 in one-time student debt cancellation to most federal student loan borrowers. The legislation would also reverse Biden’s most recent extension of the ongoing student loan pause, which has suspended payments and interest on most federal student loans for over three years.
Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana joined Republican senators in voting for the measure. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who left the Democratic party last November and now is an independent, also voted in favor of the repeal. All three senators are facing tough re-election environments in 2024. Two other Democratic senators, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Mark Warner of Virginia, did not vote. The measure passed the Senate by a margin of 52-46. Unlike most other pieces of legislation, Congressional Review Act resolutions are not subject to senate filibusters.
“Today I voted to repeal the Biden Administration’s student loan cancellation proposal because we simply cannot afford to add another $400 billion to the national debt,” said Sen. Manchin in a statement. “There are already more than 50 existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs aimed at attracting individuals to vital service jobs, such as teachers, health care workers, and public servants. This Biden proposal undermines these programs and forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost.”
The Senate’s approval follows passage by the Republican-controlled House last week. Two Democrats, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, joined Republicans in voting to repeal Biden’s student debt relief programs in that chamber.
Advocates Criticize Congress For Repealing Biden’s Student Debt Relief Initiatives
Student loan borrower advocacy groups were quick to criticize Congress for approving the repeal of Biden’s student debt relief initiatives.
“45 million people with student loan debt will never forget when politicians, led by Republican extremists, went out of their way to push millions of working families, including their own constituents, into economic catastrophe by passing this reckless CRA resolution,” said Student Borrower Protection Center Executive Director Mike Pierce in a statement. “Today’s vote makes crystal clear exactly who stood up and fought to protect the economic livelihoods of millions of people with student loan debt—and who schemed to keep them drowning in the debt despair of our nation’s student loan crisis.”
“This decision would unleash immediate and devastating repercussions for the lives of 40 million Americans burdened by student debt and their families. It is shameful that legislators would endorse measures that harm the very heroes in our communities—veterans and nurses—who are still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic and its profound economic impact,” said Natalia Abrams, Executive Director of the Student Debt Crisis Center.
Biden Has Promised To Veto Student Debt Relief Repeal
With the resolution now approved by the House and Senate, it heads to President Biden. But the White House has already indicated that he will veto the measure.
“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,” said administration officials in a statement earlier in May. “The President would veto it.”
Although a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate could override Biden’s expected veto, Republicans appeared to concede that they do not have the numbers required for such an override, guaranteeing that the repeal effort will ultimately be unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, the president is guaranteed to veto the measure, and there are not enough Democrats in the House and Senate to be willing to override his veto,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) on Thursday.
Biden also was able to preserve his student loan forgiveness plan in the final debt ceiling bill currently pending in the Senate after passage by the House earlier this week. However, he agreed to codify the end of the student loan pause later this summer, leading to criticism by student loan borrower advocates.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan by the end of this month.
Further Student Loan Forgiveness Reading
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If The Supreme Court Rejects Student Loan Forgiveness Plan, Biden Could Do This
Lowering Student Loan Payments Just Got Easier Amid Uncertainty Over Loan Forgiveness