Senate Votes to Overturn Student Loan Forgiveness Plan; Biden Promises Veto

June 1, 2023

The Senate voted Thursday on legislation to block President Biden’s student debt relief program.

The legislation was passed in the chamber 52-46, largely along partisan lines, although Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana as well as independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted with Republicans in support of the measure.

The same measure passed in the House last week by a 218-203, also largely along party lines, with two Democrats—Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington—joining Republicans in that chamber. 

The resolution, known as HJR 45, would repeal the Biden Administration’s program to cancel up to $10,000 in loans for borrowers whose income falls below certain levels and up to $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants.

Republicans have argued that the student debt forgiveness program burdens taxpayers and is unfair to those who paid off loans they borrowed or those who did not attend college. 

In a Statement of Administration Policy last month, Biden promised to veto the bill if passed by the Congress, asserting that the move would “weaken America’s middle class.”

“The Department of Education’s action is based on decades-old authority granted by Congress,” the statement goes on to say. “That authority has been used by multiple administrations over the last two decades following the same procedures to protect borrowers from the effects of national emergencies and has never been subject to the Congressional Review Act. The Department’s action here should be treated no differently.”

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the forgiveness of student debt from some 26 million borrowers would amount to roughly $400 billion over 30 years.

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