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.”