GOP lawmakers urge Cardona against executive student loan wipeout
Four House Republicans are pressuring Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to rule out a potential mass forgiveness of federal student loan debt without congressional approval.
In a Wednesday letter to Cardona, GOP Reps. Ted Budd (N.C.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Scott Petty (Pa.) and Barry Loudermilk (Ga.), asked the education secretary for a “commitment that you will not seek to usurp the will of the people and the authority Congress has delegated in cancelling student debt beyond what the law clearly allows.”
“Mass cancellation of student loan debt would not only be a clear violation of the separation of powers but would also be an affront to the millions of borrowers who responsibly repaid their loan balances,” they wrote.
President Biden is under pressure from progressive lawmakers and activists to wipe out up to $50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower through an executive order. The president has ruled out going that high, but has expressed openness to relieving a smaller portion of debt, likely scaled to a borrower’s income, through administrative action.
While Biden and Cardona have wiped out roughly $9 billion of the approximately $1.6 trillion federal student loan balance sheet through pre-existing forgiveness programs, the president is waiting for the results of a legal review to take action on broad-based forgiveness.
Under former President Trump, the Justice Department determined that then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not have the unilateral power to wipe out student loan balances, though the Biden administration is not bound by the decision. There is also considerable debate over how far the president and Education Secretary can go to forgive student loan debt under federal law.
Even so, the four GOP congressmen argued that the law had already been settled, citing the Trump-era decision on loan forgiveness and several general provisions of the Constitution that establish the powers of Congress.
“Any deviation from Congress’s clear intention for student loan balances to be repaid, with limited and specific exceptions, would be of grave concern,” they wrote.