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Sanders, Jayapal introduce bill to make college tuition-free for many Americans

Sanders, Jayapal introduce bill to make college tuition-free for many Americans
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week White House raises refugee cap to 62,500 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' MORE (D-Wash.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to make college tuition free for many Americans, a policy that would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street. 

The bill would make community college tuition-free for everyone and four-year public colleges tuition-free and debt-free for students from families making up to $125,000 per year. 

"In the 21st century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. The time is long overdue to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free for working families," Sanders said in a statement.

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Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, added that the bill would "free students from a lifetime of debt, invest in working people, and transform higher education across America."   

The bill would also allow students from families who make up to $125,000 per year to attend private, nonprofit minority-serving institutions tuition-free such as historically Black colleges and universities.

And it would double the maximum Pell Grant to $12,990, which can be used for living and nontuition expenses, and would expand eligibility to "Dreamers," immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. 

The bill would be paid for by a tax on some Wall Street trades. Sanders said he would separately reintroduce a bill, known as the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, on Wednesday. It would put a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bonds and a 0.005 tax on derivatives. 

The bill comes as Democrats are trying to build pressure on Biden to cancel student loan debt. Biden, during his presidential campaign, backed forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt. He's now facing calls from lawmakers to go further and cancel $50,000 per borrower, which top Democrats say he can do without Congress.

“While President BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE can and should immediately cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans to receive a higher education in the first place,” Jayapal said on Wednesday.