Biden requesting information on legal authority to cancel student debt

President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE has requested information from Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaBiden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Biden's Education Department must choose accountability or a 'Marbury v. Madison' moment Biden administration cancels .6M in student loan debt for fraud victims MORE regarding his legal authority to cancel student loan debt as progressives pressure him to take executive action on the issue.

White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Jan. 6 probe, infrastructure to dominate week White House looks to cool battle with Facebook Texas Democrats are fighting harder than Biden or congressional Democrats MORE said in an interview with Politico that Biden will examine a memo from Cardona and that he has not yet made a decision on whether he could take unilateral action to scrap some debt.

“He asked his secretary of Education, who’s just been on the job a few weeks, once he got on the job to have his department prepare a memo on the president’s legal authority, and hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks. And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and he’ll make a decision,” Klain said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“He hasn’t made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.” 

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSenators scramble to save infrastructure deal Overnight Health Care: New round of vaccine mandates | Health groups call for mandates for all health workers | Rising case count reignites debate over restrictions On The Money: Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds | Trump tells Republicans to walk away | GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden MORE also said in February that Biden would ask the Justice Department to “conduct a legal review of [Biden’s] authority to act by executive action.” 

Biden has come under pressure from liberal lawmakers and activists to take executive action to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower. The president has set his sights lower, saying he might target $10,000 in debt.

“I do think in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1. And No. 2, I'm prepared to write off the $10,000 debt,” he said in February

Advocates of canceling student debt by executive action say that Biden has the authority to do so under the Higher Education Act of 1965, which allowed the secretary of Education to back student loans. They also note that using legislating to cut the debt would require Republican buy-in, which appears unlikely. 

More than 40 million Americans are believed to have student debt.