Republicans introduce bill to prevent Biden from paying off student loan debt

  • Five Republican senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would ban student loan forgiveness.
  • The legislation bars Biden from taking any action to pay off or forgive borrowers’ balances.
  • The bill is unlikely to become law anytime soon with a 50-50 Senate and a House controlled by Democrats.

Student loan borrowers eager for broad debt relief will be out of luck if Sen. Mitt Romney has a say in the matter.

The Utah lawmaker, along with several of his Republican colleagues, introduced a new bill Wednesday that would bar the Biden administration from writing off student loan debt widely, a policy move the president has been considering since taking office. last year.

The Student Loan Accountability Act would bar Biden’s Departments of Education, Justice and Treasury from taking any action that would write off or forgive student loan borrowers’ outstanding balances or even portions of those balances, according to a Wednesday news release.

The bill would include exemptions for student loan forgiveness, cancellation and repayment programs already in place, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs.

Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Thom Tillis of North Carolina joined Romney in introducing the bill to Congress this week.

The bill is unlikely to become law anytime soon with a 50-50 Senate, a Democrat-controlled House and Biden in the Oval Office.

More than 40 million Americans currently have more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. On the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised to forgive $10,000 per borrower, but more than a year into his presidency, little movement has been made on broad forgiveness.

“It makes no sense for the Biden Administration to write off nearly $2 trillion in student loan debt,” Romney said in a statement, apparently referring to the unlikely scenario in which the president wrote off all of America’s student loan debt.

“This decision would not only be unfair to those who have already paid off their loans or decided to follow alternative paths of education, but it would be wildly inflationary at a time of already historic inflation,” the senator added.

Multiple times in a Wednesday news release, lawmakers said Biden’s legal authority to forgive or cancel swaths of student loan debt is “legally dubious.” Earlier this year, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the president was exploring his legal options for a possible pardon.

Recent indications from the White House suggest Biden is considering student loan forgiveness of at least $10,000 per borrower through executive action, though questions remain about who would be eligible.

Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill said student loan forgiveness would increase inflation rates, worsen inequality and incentivize colleges and universities to continue raising tuition. An analysis from May found that Biden’s $10,000 plan would cost the government $321 billion.

But despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the policy, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last week that student loan forgiveness “could be good for the economy.”

“There are some tradeoffs involved that need to be looked at,” he said during a Senate hearing.

Meanwhile, Democrats and advocates continue to urge Biden to further consider a pardon, with progressives pushing for $50,000 per borrower, an amount the president himself has said he’s not considering.

Romney has previously spoken out against student loan forgiveness, calling it a “bribe” to voters. He warned that it could be a slippery slope leading to extensive forgiveness of other types of debt.

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