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House votes to rebuff Biden on student loan relief plan, again

White House says president would veto the disapproval resolution

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., sponsored a resolution to block the Biden administration's student loan plan.
Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., sponsored a resolution to block the Biden administration's student loan plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a measure Thursday to block implementation of a new Biden administration student loan repayment option tied to income.

The joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act would disapprove of an Education Department rule that includes family size and income in calculating the amount borrowers must repay. The option would allow borrowers who have earnings of less than $15 per hour to pay $0.

“This new regulation, ironically dubbed the SAVE plan, is the most expensive regulation in our nation’s history, and is a backdoor attempt to ram the administration’s socialist free college fantasy down the throats of hard-working taxpayers,” Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., said on the House floor ahead of the 210-189 vote Thursday. “Not only does this plan shift the cost of loans from the borrower, the person who actually took out the loan, it shifts the cost to the person who never took the loan out to begin with, the taxpayer … but it also will make college more expensive.”

The administration argues that there would be broader economic fallout from requiring more borrowers to make bigger payments on their federal student loans, especially after the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s attempt to cancel more than $400 billion in debts owed by former students after a pandemic-era pause in repayments expired.

“This resolution would put our record economic recovery at risk by reducing the consumer spending of millions of borrowers returning to repayment after a more than three-year pause, and it would be particularly harmful for low- and middle-income borrowers, community college students, and borrowers who work in public service,” the Office of Management and Budget said Monday in a Statement of Administration Policy which said the president would veto the measure.

The Senate rejected, 49-50, a companion to the House resolution before Thanksgiving. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., did not vote, but his opposition would not have changed the outcome since the Biden administration opposes the measure and Vice President Kamala Harris thus would not vote to break a 50-50 tie.

Before the Supreme Court ruled in June, the Senate sent Biden a different House-crafted measure to block student loan forgiveness. Biden vetoed it, and a House attempt to override his veto did not get the needed two-thirds majority vote.

Separately, the administration announced Wednesday that its efforts to provide relief to student borrowers had topped $4.8 billion. The Education Department said $2.6 billion in debt was forgiven for those working in public sector jobs and $2.2 billion in relief from efforts to make the income-driven repayment program work better.

“We know there are so many more student loan borrowers who’ve been failed by this broken system and still need our help. We’re working really hard to fix the system, but we know that there’s so many that still need help,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters Wednesday. “We have no intention of slowing down. Our regulatory effort to deliver much-needed relief to an even greater number of borrowers is moving forward.”

In a statement, the president echoed Cardona’s comments.

“From Day One of my Administration, I vowed to improve the student loan system so that a higher education provides Americans with opportunity and prosperity — not unmanageable burdens of student loan debt,” Biden said. “I won’t back down from using every tool at our disposal to get student loan borrowers the relief they need to reach their dreams.”

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