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House votes to overturn Biden’s student loan forgiveness program

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 25, 2023

House Republicans, led by Representative Bob Good (VA-05), passed a Wednesday resolution that effectively overturns President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan.

The measure saw a surprising result, passing 218 to 203 with the aid of two Democratic votes - Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington.

The House decision comes under the purview of the Congressional Review Act, necessitating the Senate's consideration, even though it is presently under Democratic control. A simple majority could pass the resolution, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Details of Biden's Plan

The challenged plan from President Biden was expected to bring relief to nearly 40 million borrowers, with the potential for as much as $20,000 in forgiveness. Announced in August, President Biden's plan would waive $10,000 in student loans for individual earners making less than $125,000 and married couples earning less than $250,000 jointly.

Borrowers who have received a Pell Grant, an aid program for students from low-income families, would see this amount increase to $20,000. Despite the initial promise, the plan has been embroiled in legal issues and awaits Supreme Court judgment.

Potential Opposition from Senate Democrats

In a surprising turn, Senator Joe Manchin (D-VA) has expressed discontent with the forgiveness plan, with moderate Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) also potentially voting for the resolution.

House Republicans also incorporated the repeal of Biden's student loan forgiveness plan into their party-line debt ceiling bill, the "Limit Save Grow Act." This Act served as the foundation for their negotiation with the White House over the augmentation of the country's $31.4 trillion borrowing limit.

Republican Criticism of Biden's Plan

Republicans have strongly criticized the Biden administration's program, contending that it burdens taxpayers and is inequitable towards individuals who have already repaid their loans or chose not to pursue higher education.

In a statement following the vote, Rep. Good expressed praise for its passage, NBC News reported.

He said: "President Biden's student loan transfer scheme shifts hundreds of billions of dollars of payments from student loan borrowers onto the backs of the American people; I am pleased that my Republican colleagues overwhelmingly supported my legislation on the House floor today."

Greene's Decorum Amidst Contentious Debate

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14) officiated the House vote as the speaker pro tempore. Amidst the escalating debate over the debt limit, Greene implored her fellow legislators to maintain "decorum," inciting laughter from the Democratic side.

Fiscal Impact and Veto Threat

According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, Biden's plan would contribute an additional $426 billion to the deficit.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated that President Biden would veto the legislative effort to overturn his student debt relief program. Jean-Pierre stated, "He will veto this bill." She defended the administration's plan to cancel the debt, calling it a way to "help prevent borrowers from default when loan payments restart this summer."

The Legislation Progresses to the Senate

The legislative endeavor to halt President Biden's student debt plan is now progressing to the Senate. Operating under the provisions of the Congressional Review Act, Republicans can trigger a vote in the Democrat-controlled chamber, circumventing the usual requirement of a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, Politico reported. The resolution can achieve passage with a simple majority vote.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether Senator Bill Cassidy, the ranking member of the Senate education committee, can successfully persuade a few moderate Democrats to diverge from the White House's stance and cast their votes against student debt relief.

A Supreme Court Ruling with Far-Reaching Consequences

The resolution by House Republicans against President Biden's plan brings to light the importance of a forthcoming Supreme Court decision. This ruling carries weight beyond the topic of student loans.

If the Supreme Court rules that Biden's executive action is unconstitutional, it could empower states' legal challenges against federal policy-making. Such a decision would not only impact the immediate issue of student loan forgiveness but could also set a precedent for future executive actions.