Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday rushed to the Capitol in the middle of a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to continue her questioning of President BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE’s Education secretary pick, Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaHillicon Valley — Immigrants being put in surveillance programs Senate Democrats urge government to do more to protect K-12 schools against hackers Democrats call on Education secretary to address 'stealthing' at federal level MORE, experiencing technical difficulties trying to work remotely.
Warren was one of a handful of committee members who opted to participate in the hearing over video chat due to COVID-19 safety concerns, while other senators were present in the room while social distancing.
Warren first began her line of questioning toward Cardona via Zoom from her D.C. home, opening with, “You were a first-generation college student, and for you and for me, an affordable college education opened a million doors. But today’s students face a very different situation, so I want to talk with you today about student debt.”
She then outlined statistics on the level of student loan debt in the U.S., including that 43 million people, or 1 in 5 adults, have federal student loan debt, and 40 percent of those with student debt do not have a college degree.
“Can you just say a word about what that means for them?” Warren asked.
“Well, what it means is that because they don’t have the college degree, maybe they don’t have the income potential that they would have had and paying these bills will be a larger task and probably a longer process,” Cardona explained.
After Warren appeared to have not heard Cardona’s answer, she questioned him again, to which Cardona reiterated his response.
Incoming Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-Wash.) said that Warren seemed to be “having connection problems,” and that they would come back to her once the issues were resolved.
About 50 minutes later, Murray returned to Warren, though this time the Massachusetts senator appeared in-person to continue her questions.
It was not immediately clear how Warren traveled to the hearing room from her home, and her office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for additional details.
“I’m reminded by this how difficult it is right now for our students and for our teachers who are having to deal with technical glitches that interrupt their education every day, and why this package is so important to get the resources in to our schools so we can get those schools open for learning for all of our kids and persons,” the former economics professor said.
I appreciate @teachcardona’s commitment to use every tool available to help student loan borrowers crushed with debt. The law is clear: Congress gave the Secretary of Education the power to administratively #CancelStudentDebt, and Secretary Cardona should use it. pic.twitter.com/23RvLrHFEo— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 3, 2021
Warren on Thursday, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.), led a group of other Democratic lawmakers in reintroducing a plan calling on Biden to instruct the Education secretary to use provisions of the Higher Education Act and forgive up to $50,000 in debt per borrower.
It also asks Biden to order the IRS to waive taxes on the canceled loans, since forgiven debt is typically treated as taxable income in the U.S.
—Updated at 10:32 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11