(The Hill) — Republicans have introduced legislation that seeks to end the Biden administration’s current pandemic freeze on federal student loan payments while limiting the president’s power to suspend repayments in the future.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) and Republican Sens Richard Burr (NC), Mike Braun (Ind.), Bill Cassidy (La.) and Roger Marshall (Kan.) introduced the draft law, dubbed the “Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act,” on Wednesday.
“As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years into the pandemic, it’s time for borrowers to resume paying off student debt,” said Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. , in a press release.
“Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of reimbursement. This common-sense legislation would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending federal student loan repayments in perpetuity,” Thune continued, while adding that any future suspension of loan repayments “should be left to Congress, not the Biden administration.
The bill comes as a growing number of Republicans have launched attacks on Democrats and the Biden administration over the continued pause in student loan repayments, especially as the crucial midterm elections loom. at the street corner.
For months, Democrats have faced mounting pressure to show progress on a push by party leaders and members seeking broad student debt cancellation, often pointing to issues such as the impact of the pandemic on the economy, long-standing problems in the student loan system, and the disproportionate burden faced by borrowers of color.
In turn, more Republicans have spoken out against the suspension of student loans, arguing that the moratorium is unfair and places an additional burden on taxpayers while also benefiting high-income borrowers who are able to repay their debts.
In a press release Wednesday, Republicans said that while the new bill would end Biden’s “untargeted, fiscal suspension of eligible federal student loan repayments,” it would “still allow the president to temporarily suspend the repayment for low- and middle-income borrowers in future national emergencies.
The bill, the notice adds, “would also prohibit the president from canceling outstanding federal student loan obligations due to a national emergency.”
“The majority of Americans don’t have a college degree,” Braun said. “Why should they be forced to foot the bill for college degrees in the name of pandemic relief? This wealth transfer is not a move to “advance fairness”, but rather a taxpayer handout to appease far-left activists.
The moratorium was first implemented under the Trump administration at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 and has since been extended six times under pressure from voters and Democrats pushing Biden to take further action on student loans.
The topic has become more important to voters over the years, with the number of student borrowers surging over the past two decades.
According to data from the Congressional Budget Office, federal student debt increased sevenfold between 1995 and 2017, from $187 billion to $1.4 trillion.
The Federal Reserve estimated last year that about $1.7 trillion in student loan debt had been accumulated by borrowers nationwide.
During his campaign, Biden has called for forgiving at least $10,000 in federal student loans per person. However, other Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.), pushed him to hit $50,000 per borrower or write off the debt entirely through executive action.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s use of executive action to write off federal student loan debt is “still on the table. and that a “decision” could be made on that later this year.