Warren, Schumer, Pressley, Colleagues: President Biden Can and Should Use Executive Action to Cancel up to $50,000 in Federal Student Loan Debt Immediately
At 11 am today. Senator Warren, Leader Schumer and Representatives Pressley, Alma Adams (D-NC), Ilhan Omar (D-MI), and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y) will hold a press conference reintroducing their resolution. The event will stream live here.
Canceling student debt is the single most effective executive action available to provide massive consumer-driven stimulus
Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led their colleagues in reintroducing their bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers. The resolution calls on the President to use executive authority to cancel student loan debt and ensure there is no tax liability for Federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt cancellation.
At 11am today, Senator Warren, Leader Schumer and Representatives Pressley, Alma Adams (D-NC), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y) will hold a press conference reintroducing their resolution. The event will stream live here.
Today, over 43 million people in the United States are buried under $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. Studies show that cancelling student debt would substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help narrow the racial wealth gap, provide immediate relief to millions of Americans during the pandemic and recession, and provide massive consumer-driven stimulus to our economy.
Over 325 civil rights, climate, health, labor, consumer rights, and student organizations have called on President Biden to cancel federal student debt using executive action, including American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, The Education Trust, Hispanic Federation, NAACP, National Urban League, UnidosUS, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Minority Veterans of America, National Women's Law Center, SEIU, the American Psychological Association, Sunrise Movement, the United States Student Association, and Young Invincibles.
"The COVID-19 crisis is worsening the massive inequities in our economy and society, but even before the pandemic the student loan debt crisis was already crushing millions of Americans," said Senator Warren. "By cancelling up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers, President Biden can take the single most effective executive action available to provide a massive stimulus to our economy, help narrow the racial wealth gap, and lift this impossible burden off of tens of millions of families."
"Student loan debt is weighing down millions of families in New York and across this country," said Leader Schumer. "During a time of historic and overlapping crises, which are disproportionately impacting communities of color, we must do everything in our power to deliver real relief to the American people, lift up our struggling economy and close the racial wealth gap. Democrats are committed to big, bold action, and this resolution to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt is one of the strongest steps the president can take to achieve these goals."
"The student debt crisis is a racial and economic justice issue," said Congresswoman Pressley. "With this pandemic worsening daily, we need bold and high impact policies that will match the scale and scope of the crisis and truly offer immediate relief for people-this must include across the board student debt cancellation. President Biden has the legal authority to cancel billions in student debt with the stroke of a pen and he must meet the moment by using that authority, which would not only set us on a path to an equitable recovery, but would also help reduce the racial wealth gap."
Congress has already granted the Secretary of Education the legal authority to broadly cancel student debt under section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1082(a)), which gives the Secretary the authority to modify, "... compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption." The Department of Education has used this authority to implement modest relief for federal student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Recognizes the Secretary of Education's broad administrative authority to cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student debt, using the modification and compromise authority Congress has already granted the Secretary in law;
- Calls on President Biden to take executive action to administratively cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers using existing legal authorities under section 432(a) of the Higher Education act of 1965 and any authorities available under the law;
- Encourages President Biden to use the executive's authority under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prevent administrative debt cancellation from resulting in a tax liability for borrowers;
- Encourages President Biden, in taking such executive action, to ensure that administrative debt cancellation helps close racial wealth gaps and avoids the bulk of federal student debt cancellation benefits accruing to the wealthiest borrowers; and
- Encourages President Biden to continue to pause student loan payments and interest accumulation for Federal student loan borrowers for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining the resolution are Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Alma Adams (NC-12), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Mondaire Jones (NY-17) and Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Cori Bush (MO-01), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (IL-04), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Alcee Hastings (FL-02), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Al Lawson (FL-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY-14), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), André Carson (IN-07), and Mark Pocan (IN-07).
"Even before the pandemic, student loan debt in this country was already crushing for many, preventing people from starting families, purchasing homes, pursuing professions, and fully participating in the economy," said Senator Brown. "Student loan debt cancellation can provide immediate relief to families who are facing economic hardship, help close the racial wealth gap, and stimulate the American economy for millions of people. Debt cancellation is especially important as families - particularly Black and brown households, who are disproportionately affected by these issues - are navigating the public health and financial crisis of the pandemic. It is past time for action."
"The $1.6 trillion of federal student loan debt weighs down American families and disproportionately burdens Black and Latinx households," said Senator Durbin. "Cancelling up to $50,000 in debt would provide immediate financial relief during this unprecedented economic crisis and lift the weight off the backs of countless American households. I am proud to join this resolution, which will help narrow the racial wealth gap and give millions a fresh start as we continue to grapple with this pandemic."
"We told America's students that if they sought higher education, they'd receive better opportunities. But now, over 43 million of them, including seniors and students of color, are struggling to keep up with student debt payments on top of housing costs and other bills during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis," said Senator Duckworth. "By taking executive action and cancelling up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt, President Biden can ease that burden and provide immediate, desperately-needed economic relief-and I hope he does."
"The student loan debt crisis was a financial bomb ready to go off well before the COVID-19 pandemic - and after thousands lost their jobs in the economic downturn, the fuse has been lit. Rising costs and predatory lenders have forced young people to mortgage their futures for a chance at a college education. We're urging the Biden Administration to take bold action right now and ease the burden for student borrowers," said Senator Blumenthal.
"Student debt cancellation would provide desperately-needed relief for Americans and stimulate our economic recovery," said Senator Markey. "Imagine what our country will achieve when this unnecessary burden is lifted from the backs of millions of Americans. I hope President Biden will use his executive authority to fix this injustice."
"As we work to confront both the public health crisis and economic distress brought on by COVID-19 and deliver relief to those who need it the most, we must confront the crisis of mounting student loan debt that burdens 45 million Americans -- disproportionately low-income and communities of color," said Senator Booker. "College students and graduates have been heavily impacted by this crisis and it is crucial that we provide them with relief. I encourage the President to use his authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt and make the long economic recovery ahead easier for millions of Americans who need it the most."
"The COVID-19 pandemic took a wrecking ball to our economy, making the burden of student debt even more crushing for the millions who bear it," Senator Wyden said. "While President Biden has ensured payments on federal student debt are paused until the fall, he has the authority to step in and automatically forgive $50,000 in student debt for folks in Oregon and nationwide who are struggling to make ends meet. This move would not only help bolster the economy by virtually putting money back in people's pockets, it would make a tangible difference in the lives of millions by alleviating a substantial threat to their financial security."
"The burden of student debt is crushing young Americans and damaging our economy," said Senator Ossoff. "I applaud the President's suspension of federal student loan debt payments and interest through September, and we are calling on him to go further and use his authority to cancel up to $50,000 of federal student debt per individual, delivering the permanent student loan debt relief millions of Americans and our economy desperately need."
"Pursuing higher education should not lead to a lifetime of debt that holds people back from important milestones like having a child, buying a home, or starting a business. Sadly, that's the reality for too many Americans struggling with mounting student loan debt. The federal government must act to alleviate this financial stress, cancel student loan debt, and help Americans recover and rebuild from this pandemic," said Senator Luján. "I'm proud to join Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Warren, and my colleagues to introduce a strong student loan debt cancellation resolution and help Americans to regain control over their financial futures."
"Long before the coronavirus reached our shores, millions of young people throughout New Jersey and the nation were overwhelmed by enormous and insurmountable student loan debt," said Sen. Menendez. "Now, the suffering unleashed by this pandemic has many borrowers, especially in Black and Latino households, falling even more behind as they struggle to make mortgage and rent payments, buy groceries and afford child care and other expenses. President Biden has the authority to alleviate this burden, which would not only provide an immediate shot in the arm to our economy, but reduce the wealth disparities that continue to hurt our minority communities. Canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt is the right thing to do for our families and the smart thing to do for our economy."
"Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people across this country were confronting a student debt burden that made it harder to pay their bills, buy homes, pursue jobs in public service, and participate in any type of future economic recovery. And that burden has a particularly pernicious impact on communities of color. Nearly a year into this public health crisis and ensuing recession, families continue to struggle to afford basic necessities. But the new administration and Congress has made clear they are working to tackle these challenges and put decency, competency and the needs of working people first. Through the Higher Education Act, the president already has the tools he needs to meaningfully address the student debt crisis and forgive a portion of our nation's student debt. On behalf of millions of borrowers, educators, healthcare professionals and public employees, I am proud to support the senators and representatives introducing this important resolution that calls on the president to take that action and work to provide relief for struggling borrowers." - Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers
In December, Senators Warren and Schumer penned an op-ed in Blavity on why the Biden-Harris administration should cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt on day one of their administration and how cancelling student loan debt will help start to close the racial wealth gap. Senators Warren and Schumer also published an op-ed on CNBC.com on how cancelling up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help America's older persons, which include 6.3 million borrowers ages 50-64 and nearly a million borrowers over the age of 65 who are still paying for a loved one's education or for their own. Senator Warren along with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced the Student Loan Debt Relief Act, legislation that would eliminate up to $50,000 in student debt for 42 million Americans, including private borrowers.
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