A recent report indicated that President Joe Biden, likely to appease his left flank and boost his approval numbers, was considering once again extending the moratorium on federal student loan repayments as well as taking executive action to simply cancel outright some or all of the outstanding debt.
That won’t fly with most conservatives, though, and a group of Republican senators just filed legislation that would block Biden or any future president from taking such actions without the express approval of Congress, The Hill reported.
The bill was introduced Wednesday by Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD) and was joined by Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).
Biden is open to extending repayment pause, canceling some or all student loan debt
The Washington Post had reported Tuesday that President Biden, during a meeting with House Democrat members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, signaled his openness to extend the moratorium on federal student loan repayments when it expires on August 31 after Biden had extended it again.
If he did so, it would be Biden’s fifth time using executive authority to unilaterally extend the supposedly temporary pause in repayments that was first implemented as an emergency relief measure by former President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The president also expressed a willingness to unilaterally cancel or forgive at least $10,000 or more per individual borrower in federal student loan debt, which, all told, totals roughly $1.7 trillion owed to the federal government.
Stopping Biden’s “reckless” unilateral actions on federal student loan debt
Enter the group of Senate Republicans and their bill titled the “Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act of 2022,” which would amend existing statutory authorities allowing the executive branch to unilaterally offer and provide relief for student loan debtors.
If passed, the legislation would restrict the existing authorities to non-consecutive 90-day periods and assert congressional oversight and approval over any future attempts to defer or suspend student loan repayments or interest accrual as well as any attempts to cancel or forgive all or some of the outstanding debt owed to the government for the federally-backed loans.
“As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligations,” Sen. Thune said in a press release.
“Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of repayment,” he added. “This common-sense legislation would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending federal student loan repayments in perpetuity. Any future suspension of federal student loan repayments should be left to Congress, not the Biden administration.”
Sen. Burr called out the stunning duality of Biden simultaneously saying the economy had returned to normal while also continuing to extend the repayment moratorium, while Sen. Marshall argued that though the initial pause was understandable at the beginning of the pandemic, it was now “fiscally unsustainable” and costing taxpayers billions.
As for the idea of canceling federal student debt outright, “The majority of Americans do not have college degrees,” Sen. Braun said. “Why should they be forced to pick up the tab for college degrees in the name of pandemic relief? This transfer of wealth is not a move to ‘advance equity,’ but rather a taxpayer handout to appease far-left activists.”