Senate Deals a Blow to Biden’s Student Loan Relief!

After the proposal passed a significant procedural test in the Senate, the body decided to vote primarily along partisan lines on Thursday to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce student loan debt.

The legislation, which would terminate Vice President Biden’s debt relief program and stop the administration’s moratorium on federal student loan payments, was approved 52-46 a day after senators voted in a closely contested manner to move forward with it.

On the motion to take up the proposal and the final approval vote, a small group of centrist senators—Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, and independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—voted with the Republicans.

Only a simple majority of senators were required to pass the measure and deliver it to Biden. But the White House forewarned that Biden would veto the action in a Statement of Administration Policy last month.

Senate Deals a Blow to Biden's Student Loan Relief

According to the statement, “This resolution is an unprecedented attempt to undercut our historic economic recovery and would deprive more than 40 million hard-working Americans of much-needed student debt relief.”

With two Democrats — Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington — joining Republicans in supporting the bill, the House passed it last week by a vote of 218–203, primarily along party lines.

The proposal would end the administration’s policy of canceling loans worth up to $10,000 for borrowers whose income is below a specific threshold and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The resolution would also lift a suspension in loan payments and interest accrual from the pandemic phase.

However, Biden’s plan to reduce student loan debt could still face its most significant hurdle. This month, the conservative-majority Supreme Court is anticipated to make decisions in two lawsuits involving Vice President Biden’s debt relief plan.

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The debt ceiling bill that Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., worked out will resume payments on federal student loans suspended at the beginning of the crisis. The bill passed the House on Wednesday and will now go to the Senate.

If the debt bill is passed into law, payments will start again at the end of August. However, despite GOP-led attempts to include a provision to do so, the debt measure would not prevent Biden’s debt forgiveness plan from going into effect.

Republicans have contended that the student debt forgiveness program of the Biden administration taxes taxpayers and is unjust to people who paid off debts they had taken out or those who did not go to college.

According to the unbiased Congressional Budget Office, ending the program would reduce the nation’s debt by $315 billion over the following ten years.

In contrast, the Biden administration has argued that debt relief would give borrowers “breathing room” after the pandemic and accompanying economic crisis have passed because higher education costs have become a “lifelong burden” for low- and middle-income Americans.

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