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Senate clears repeal of Biden student loan forgiveness plan

President expected to veto the measure, but court ruling looms

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., defended forgiving student loans, saying the debt is a drag on the economy.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., defended forgiving student loans, saying the debt is a drag on the economy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A joint resolution to block President Joe Biden’s student loan relief proposal cleared the Senate Thursday, but that’s likely the end of legislative efforts to scrap the initiative.

That’s because the White House has said Biden will veto the measure, which cleared the Senate by a vote of 52 to 46. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, along with independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, supported the measure, as did every Republican. The resolution passed the House last week, but neither vote drew enough support to override a veto.

Despite the legislative wrangling, the ultimate test for the proposal is whether it survives challenges before the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in February. Justices are expected to issue a ruling before the end of June.

Republicans say Biden’s student loan relief proposal would spur inflation, do nothing to reduce college costs and is not fair to those who didn’t take on college debt.

“We’re asking taxpayers at large to foot the bill for student loan cancellation for Americans who enjoy greater long-term earning potential than many of the Americans who will be helping to shoulder the burden,” said Sen. John Thune, R.-S.D. “The president’s student loan giveaway isn’t a government handout for the needy, its a government handout that will be disproportionately beneficial to Americans who are better off.”

Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said student debt is a drag on the economy because it prevents millions of borrowers from buying homes, starting families and launching businesses. Ninety percent of the relief will go to borrowers earning less than $75,000 annually, she said.

“I’ve heard from so many people across my state who were so grateful and relieved to have a glimmer of hope, to see a light at the end of the tunnel and now Republicans want to snuff it out,” Murray said.

Republicans had sought to block the student loan forgiveness in negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, but the agreement the House passed on Wednesday did not deal with it. It did, however, codify ending a pause on loan payments first instituted by President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The bipartisan agreement bars Biden from issuing another extension of the current pause, which is set to end by Sept. 1.

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Photos of the week ending December 8, 2023