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House panel moves to block Biden student loan forgiveness plan

Foxx says disadvantaged forced to pay ‘someone else’s tuition bill’

House Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said a Biden Administration plan to forgive student loans would be a burden on people who never went to college.
House Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said a Biden Administration plan to forgive student loans would be a burden on people who never went to college. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on a key House committee Wednesday took another step to block President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness program.

During a markup of the joint resolution of disapproval, GOP lawmakers on the Committee on Education and the Workforce argued that the Department of Education’s student loan relief plan would add billions to the federal debt while doing nothing to address the rising cost of college. They also argued that Biden’s plan is inherently unfair because it only benefits those who attended college.

“President Biden is forcing the very people Democrats claim to care about — low-income families, disadvantaged populations and blue collar workers who never stepped foot on a college campus — to pay someone else’s tuition bill,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee.

Biden announced the student loan debt relief program in August, fulfilling a campaign promise and winning applause from progressives, some of whom had sought a far higher debt relief threshold. The plan would provide $10,000 in student loan forgiveness to borrowers earning up to $125,000 annually, with $20,000 in relief for Pell Grant recipients.

The administration also has repeatedly postponed repayment of student loan debt, continuing a pandemic-era policy first enacted by President Donald Trump. Those payments are scheduled to resume 60 days after June 30.

Republicans have been fighting the debt relief plan, both in Congress and at the Supreme Court. In February, the court heard oral arguments in two cases that question the constitutionality of the debt relief program.

Democrats say student loan debt weighs down the household budgets of millions of Americans, preventing them from buying homes and starting families. 

“We didn’t hear any concern about equity when the $1.9 trillion Trump tax cut passed [and] 80 percent went to the top 1 percent and corporations,” said Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee. “There’s no concern about paying back loans when wealthy businessmen got loans [through the Paycheck Protection Program.] Some members of Congress got PPP loans in the range of a million dollars … and those were forgiven.”

The committee’s 24-18 party-line vote is another example of the GOP’s strategy of using the Congressional Review Act to overturn administration rules and unravel major components of the Biden policy agenda. The CRA allows Congress to overturn government agency rules. Efforts to invoke it require only a simple majority and are not subject to Senate filibuster rules, which require 60 votes for most legislation. 

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