by Naomi Lim, Political Reporter | February 04, 2021 01:19
The White House is pushing back on congressional Democrats who are pressing President Biden to forgive a large chunk of federal student loan debt through executive action.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined “Squad” members Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and others, to announce Thursday they were reintroducing a nonbinding measure calling on Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in debt per federal student loan borrower and nix any tax implications.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said roughly an hour later Biden believes Congress should craft legislation on the matter rather than relying on executive fiat.
“If it is passed and sent to his desk, he will look forward to signing it,” Psaki told reporters.
During the campaign and transition, Biden publicly backed forgiving $10,000 of federal student loan debt per person as part of economic relief programs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Psaki reminded reporters Thursday that Biden directed the Department of Education last month to extend the existing pause on federal student loan repayments and interest accrual until March 31.
“He already took a step through an executive action on the first day, and he would look to Congress to take the next steps,” she said.
During a Thursday morning press conference, Warren, a former 2020 Democratic presidential primary rival, said 45 million Americans were grappling with student loan debt.
The liberal firebrand also cited data showing that alleviating some of the burden “would result in greater homeownership rates, more housing stability, improved credit scores, higher incomes, higher GDP, more small business formation, and more jobs.”
“Canceling student loan debt is the single most effective executive action that President Biden can take to kick-start this economy,” Warren said. “Canceling student loan debt is the single most effective executive action that President Biden can take to help close the racial wealth gap.”
She added: “Canceling student loan debt is the single most effective executive action President Biden can take to lift the economic prospects of tens of millions of young Americans.”