Senate Democrats Want One More Chance to ‘Push Biden Left’ on Student Debt
Student debt has been a growing problem in the United States for years. Over the last decade, total student loan debt surpassed both credit card and auto debt held by Americans. As of last year, 43.4 million Americans collectively held $1.61 trillion in student debt.
Senate Democrats want US President Joe Biden to hold off on announcing his decision on how he intends to handle growing student loan debt, at least until they talk to him first.
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) have told the White House they would prefer if Biden held off on signing any executive orders until they get one more chance to push Biden closer to their position, according to a report from Politico, citing two people “familiar with the matter.”
Biden has indicated in recent weeks that he is close to making a decision on student loan debt. Schumer earlier claimed that he felt that Biden was moving towards his position on the issue.
The Senate majority leader and other left-leaning Democrats have said they want $50,000 in student debt to be wiped out. During the 2020 campaign, Biden proposed eliminating just $10,000.
Shortly after Schumer stated he felt Biden was moving towards him, Biden unequivocally stated he is not considering $50,000 in student debt relief, but will consider forgiving some debt.
Biden has received some criticism from more progressive Democrats in Congress. US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has indicated that Biden is losing young voters due to a lack of action, with Warren stating that Democrats cannot rest on their laurels if they plan to keep control of Congress after November’s midterm elections.
Early in the pandemic, former US President Donald Trump paused student loan repayments, a policy that Biden has thus far continued; however, payments are set to resume in August, though another pause or some relief is likely before then.
A move to wipe out significant amounts of student debt would undoubtedly be popular among young voters, a block the Democrats depend on to win elections. According to a recent Harvard poll, 85% of voters aged 18 - 29 want the government to cancel at least some student debt, though only 38% are in favor of total forgiveness.
According to Politico, there are no meetings scheduled between Biden and the progressive wing of the party, but a White House source told them that Biden would be “amenable to one.”
Multiple reports have indicated Biden administration officials are looking for a way to means-test student debt relief, but the Department of Education has told them privately that they do not have data on the income rates of borrowers to do that automatically, complicating and potentially delaying the relief significantly.
Biden’s decision on student debt relief is expected in the coming weeks.