WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top Senate Democrats are once again calling on President Joe Biden to forgive student loan debt. But, they continue to face opposition not only from Republicans, but also from the White House.
At a news conference Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed efforts to cancel student loan debt up to $50,000 per borrower.
“Extending the pause and eventually canceling student loan debt would be a bold step toward economic opportunity for millions of Americans and for our whole economy,” Schumer said.
Schumer’s latest move comes as Democrats draw up a massive $3.5 trillion spending plan covering many of their top goals, everything from education to child and elder care to climate change. It’s unclear exactly how much – if any – forgiveness will be in the plan.
The pause on repaying federally held student loans due to the pandemic expires on September 30. Schumer, flanked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) during the news conference, is also calling on Biden to extend the pause through early 2022 as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People were thrown off their stride by COVID. Give them a chance to recover, wait until the spring,” Schumer urged.
Schumer’s request is much larger than the $10,000 per borrower Biden said he would approve.
Canceling $10,000 in loans would erase debt for more than one-third of all borrowers, and would cost an estimated $371 billion, according to a Yahoo Finance report from March. Canceling $50,000 would clear debt for 80 percent of borrowers, would cost just over $1 trillion, the same analysis found.
“Are we giving them the opportunities to pursue higher education dreams and goals that they have? Or are we going to put up barriers in front of them?” said Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii), who is among the House members backing Schumer’s plan.
If Democrats are going to pass student loan forgiveness, the upcoming budget resolution, process known as “reconciliation”, may be the best path forward because it doesn’t require Republican support. Republicans have largely opposed forgiving student loans.
“(Democrats) need to settle on who is going to be able to take this type of money,” said Todd Belt, director of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management in Washington, D.C. “There may be some means testing to it to make it a little more palatable.”