Overnight Finance

On The Money — Biden extends student loan relief

Julia Nikhinson

Happy Wednesday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: Federal student debtors have a few more months until payments are due thanks to an order from President Biden. We’ll also look at how progressive lawmakers are looking to revive Build Back Better and how supply chains held up amid the holiday rush.

But first, a rare moment of comity between Biden and former President Trump.

For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Naomi Jagoda and Aris Folley.  Write us at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane,njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda, and afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let’s get to it.

Biden extends student loan freeze to May 1 

President Biden on Wednesday extended the pandemic moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest accrual through May 1 amid surging cases of COVID-19.

  • Those who owe student loans to the federal government have not been required to make payments on their debt since former President Trump initially issued the moratorium in March 2020. 
  • Trump’s order also froze the accrual of interest on federal student loans, effectively freezing $1.6 trillion in debt owed by more than 40 million Americans.

Biden announced the extension in a Wednesday statement that touted the strength of the economy during his first year in office but acknowledged the new threat posed by the omicron variant.

The background: The moratorium was set to lapse on Jan. 31 per an extension signed by Biden in August, and the White House earlier this month all but ruled out another extension. But the president had faced growing pressure to extend the federal student loan freeze as COVID-19 cases began spiking earlier this month.

“Now, while our jobs recovery is one of the strongest ever, we know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments,” Biden said in a statement.

The reaction: Progressive lawmakers who urged Biden to extend the moratorium offered immediate praise, paired with another nudge toward unilaterally forgiving a significant chunk of the federal student loan balance sheet. 

While Biden has said he would sign a bill forgiving up to $10,000 in federal student debt per borrower, he has ruled out going as high as $50,000. The administration has also expressed doubts about Biden’s authority to unilaterally cancel debt and has refused to release an internal legal analysis requested by the president.

Sylvan has more here.


Jayapal lays out ‘whole-of-government approach’ on Biden agenda

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday urged lawmakers and the White House to take a “whole-of-government approach” to advancing President Biden’s agenda.

“Today, the elected leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling on the President and all Democrats who believe in the need to Build Back Better for climate, care, immigrants, and those seeking economic dignity and opportunity to come together and deliver for the American people,” Jayapal said in a statement.

The statement comes after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he was opposed to Democrats’ massive social spending and climate package, known as the Build Back Better Act. Manchin, a moderate, cited concerns about inflation and the national debt.

  • Japayal said that a revised version of the Build Back Better Act should keep intact as much of the legislation that the House passed in November as possible.
  • Jayapal also said the White House should take a series of executive actions while negotiations on legislation continue.
  • Additionally, Jayapal called for federal action on voting rights.

Read more from Naomi here.


Trump’s tax law hits four-year anniversary in a safer spot

Four years after former President Trump signed his 2017 tax-cut law, most of the measure is unlikely to be reversed in the near term, even under a Democratic president and Congress.

Democratic lawmakers were united in voting against the legislation, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), and they and President Biden subsequently campaigned on rolling back the law’s tax cuts for high-income individuals and corporations. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress” several weeks before the 2017 tax law was enacted.

Yet, four years later, Democrats are struggling to undo major portions of the law, and it increasingly looks like the Trump bill will be lasting.

Read more here.


Biden cheers progress on supply chains

President Biden on Wednesday credited his administration with helping to alleviate supply chain bottlenecks ahead of the holidays, saying shelves were stocked despite predictions about gifts being held up in the mail.

“Earlier this fall, we heard a lot of dire warnings about supply chain problems leading to a crisis around the holidays. So we acted,” Biden said during a meeting on supply chains with administration officials and business executives. “And the much-predicted crisis didn’t occur. Packages are moving, gifts are being delivered, shelves are not empty.”

Biden met on Wednesday morning, three days before Christmas, with members of his supply chain task force as well as executives from FedEx, Yellow Corp, the American Association of Port Authorities, GAP and Fastport.

Read more from The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant here.

Good to Know

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.3 percent rate in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. 

Here’s what else have our eye on:

U.S. consumer confidence also rose to its highest level since July this month despite worrying news about inflation, the omicron variant and an expected winter surge of the novel coronavirus, according to a monthly survey from The Conference Board.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi Pramila Jayapal

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