Warren stalls confirmation of Biden pick in push for student loan reforms

Warren stalls confirmation of Biden pick in push for student loan reforms
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Canceling K in student debt could 'transform an entire generation' 10 books that take readers inside the lives of American leaders Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D-Mass.) is seeking firm commitments on student loan reforms before committing to backing James Kvaal, President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden's defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader's killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE’s nominee for the Education Department’s head of higher education policy, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill. 

Bloomberg Government had first reported that an unnamed Democratic lawmaker was blocking the confirmation to convince the Biden administration to cancel student debt by executive action. 

However, the source who spoke to The Hill said the hold was related to a broad range of reforms sought in higher education, including the administration of the student loan program. 

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Warren remains in talks with Kvaal on her concerns, the source added. 

People familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that Warren’s hesitancy to support Kvaal’s confirmation for the under secretary of Education has created tensions among Democrats.

White House and Education Department officials told the news outlet that they are working on coming to a compromise on the concerns brought by lawmakers over loan forgiveness. 

Vanessa Harmoush, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said in a statement, “We’ve been working with senate offices and are encouraged by the conversations and developments around James Kvaal’s nomination.” 

“We share the same goals around making the Federal Student Aid office more consumer-friendly and an advocate for student borrowers,” she added, according to the Post. 

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Kvaal, who previously worked in the White House and Department of Education under the Obama administration, most recently served as president of the nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success, where he worked to improve the affordability of college and reduce student loan debt. 

He also played a central role in the expansion of federal income-based repayment plans for student loans under the Obama administration and pushed for tuition-free community college, as well as increased oversight over for-profit schools.

Kvaal during his April confirmation hearing told lawmakers, “There is a crisis in the student loan program.” 

“We need to continue to explore ways to provide relief for students under the burden of loan debt, while helping current and future students with affordable options,” he added at the time. 

Warren and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (D-N.Y.) have been some of the most fervent supporters on Capitol Hill for higher education reforms and student loan cancellation. 

In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaBiden's Education Department must choose accountability or a 'Marbury v. Madison' moment Biden administration cancels .6M in student loan debt for fraud victims CDC encourages schools to open for in-person learning MORE last month, Warren, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithFauci: Paul doesn't know what he's talking about Clean electricity standard should be a no brainer amid extreme climate impacts Overnight Energy: Democrats reach budget deal including climate priorities | Europe planning to cut emissions 55 percent by 2030 | Army Corps nominee pledges not to politicize DAPL environmental review MORE (Minn.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenCivil rights activist Gloria Richardson dies Senate Democrats hit speedbumps with big spending plans Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer MORE (Md.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), wrote requesting “updates on your actions to protect student borrowers during a critical moment for borrowers and our national economy” amid the coronavirus pandemic.