NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 30th, 2023

Biden-Harris administration moves to restart student loan forgiveness under Higher Education Act after Supreme Court ruling

A res­olute, deter­mined Pres­i­dent Joe Biden made a joint appear­ance with Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Miguel Car­dona this after­noon at the White House to announce that the admin­is­tra­tion isn’t giv­ing up on stu­dent loan for­give­ness in the wake of the Supreme Court’s deci­sion in Biden v. Nebras­ka, which struck down the admin­is­tra­tion’s orig­i­nal stu­dent loan for­give­ness plan adopt­ed just last year.

“I’m not going to stop fight­ing to deliv­er bor­row­ers what they need, par­tic­u­lar­ly those at the bot­tom end of the eco­nom­ic scale,” said the President.

“So, we need to find a new way. And we’re mov­ing as fast as we can.”

“First, I’m announc­ing today a new path con­sis­tent with today’s rul­ing to pro­vide stu­dent debt relief to as many bor­row­ers as pos­si­ble as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. We will ground this new approach in a dif­fer­ent law than my orig­i­nal plan, the so-called High­er Edu­ca­tion Act. That — that will allow Sec­re­tary Car­dona, who is with me today, to com­pro­mise, waive, or release loans under cer­tain circumstances.”

“This new path is legal­ly sound. It’s going to take longer, but, in my view, it’s the best path that remains to pro­vid­ing for as many bor­row­ers as pos­si­ble with debt relief. I’ve direct­ed my team to move as quick­ly as pos­si­ble under the law. Just moments ago, Sec­re­tary Car­dona took the first step to ini­tial­ly that — to ini­ti­ate that new approach. We’re not going to waste any time on this. We’re get­ting mov­ing on it.  It’s going to take longer, but we’re get­ting at it right away.”

“Fight­ing for the mid­dle-class and hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans has been a cor­ner­stone of Pres­i­dent Biden’s first term as pres­i­dent,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Jaime Har­ri­son. “Since his first day in office, Pres­i­dent Biden has been com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that gov­ern­ment deliv­ers for work­ing fam­i­lies. Despite today’s rul­ing, Democ­rats remain more com­mit­ted than ever to fight­ing for the hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans that are the back­bone of our country.”

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren, who had called on the admin­is­tra­tion to exer­cise its HEA author­i­ty, applaud­ed the move, tweet­ing: “Pres­i­dent Biden is right to fight back on behalf of work­ing peo­ple in need of stu­dent debt can­cel­la­tion. The law is on his side. The Pres­i­dent has the clear legal author­i­ty to can­cel stu­dent debt under the High­er Edu­ca­tion Act. In a democ­ra­cy, we have the final say.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez had made a sim­i­lar appeal ear­li­er in the day, point­ing out: “Just last year, DOE for­gave $6 BILLION for defraud­ed stu­dents. Trump com­plete­ly wiped out debt for dis­abled vet­er­ans. Nei­ther pro­gram was chal­lenged nor over­turned. We still have the pow­er to can­cel and must use it, or we’re look­ing at an eco­nom­ic cri­sis for mil­lions of people.”

The Debt Col­lec­tive was less enthu­si­as­tic about the admin­is­tra­tion’s announce­ment, respond­ing with these words: “Biden final­ly heard us on using the High­er Edu­ca­tion Act of 1965 — but he’s refus­ing to make stu­dent debt relief auto­mat­ic like we told him. That’s the fatal flaw.”

Mean­while, Wash­ing­ton’s senior Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray called on Con­gress to act.

“I’ve been push­ing along­side my Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues in Con­gress to fix the bro­ken stu­dent loan sys­tem and deliv­er for bor­row­ers across the coun­try — and it’s time for Repub­li­cans to join us and get seri­ous about help­ing stu­dent bor­row­ers instead of push­ing night-and-day to rip away relief for mid­dle class fam­i­lies,” said Mur­ray, the first woman Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore in his­to­ry, who eas­i­ly won reelec­tion last year. “My sib­lings and I got through col­lege because the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had our backs — and I won’t stop fight­ing to make sure every stu­dent in Amer­i­ca has the same oppor­tu­ni­ties we did.”

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