February 28, 2019

Senators Warren and Rubio Reintroduce Bill to Protect Jobs for Workers Struggling with Student Loans

Bill Text (PDF) | One-Pager (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today reintroduced the Protecting Job Opportunities for Borrowers (Protecting JOBs) Act (S.609), legislation that would help to ensure borrowers are not inhibited from working solely because they fell behind on their federal student loan payments. Specifically, the Protecting JOBs Act would prevent states from suspending, revoking or denying state professional, teaching, or driver's licenses solely because a borrower falls behind on their federal student loan payments. A one pager of the bill is available here.

"We shouldn't punish people struggling to pay back their student loans by taking away their drivers' or professional licenses, preventing them from going to work and making a living," said Senator Warren. "Our bipartisan bill removes these senseless roadblocks so that borrowers can build better financial futures."

"It is wrong to threaten a borrower's livelihood by rescinding a professional license from those who are struggling to repay student loans, and it deprives hardworking Americans of dignified work," Senator Rubio said. "Our bill fixes this 'catch-22' and ensures that borrowers are able to continue working to pay off their loans, instead of being caught in a modern-day debtors prison."

Beginning two years after enactment, this legislation would prevent states from suspending, revoking, or denying state professional or drivers' licenses solely because borrowers are behind on their federal student loan payments. The bill achieves this goal by using the same statutory structure that requires certain members of the Armed Forces to receive in-state tuition as a condition of the states' colleges and universities receiving certain federal funds under the Higher Education Act.

The Protecting JOBs Act would:

  • Prevent states from denying, suspending, or revoking state-issued:
    • driver's licenses;
    • teaching licenses;
    • professional licenses; or
    • a similar form of licensing to lawful employment in a certain field.
  • Give states two years to comply.
  • Provide borrowers with legal recourse for non-compliance, by allowing them to file for prospective injunctive relief if a state violates the terms of the act.

 The Protecting JOBs Act was first introduced by Senators Warren and Rubio in June 2018 and is supported by: AccessLex, American Federation of Teachers, American Nurses Association, American Optometric Association, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Reports, Federation of American Hospitals, Generation Progress, Heritage Action, Higher Education Loan Coalition, The Institute  for College Access & Success, Institute for Justice, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), National Council of State Boards of Nursing, National Education Association, National Employment Law Project, Opportunity Solutions Project, Pacific Legal Foundation, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, R Street, Student Debt Crisis, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UnidosUS, United Negro College Fund, and Young Invincibles.