On Wednesday, House Republicans took a stand against President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan by passing a resolution, H.J. Res. 45. The resolution was authored by Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Good. The efforts were met with hostility from the White House, which announced it would veto the resolution should it reach Biden’s desk.
Republicans are using The Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to override executive regulatory actions. Passage of the resolution only requires a simple majority in each chamber, but it would take two super-majority votes to override the President’s veto.
Biden’s student loan cancellation hit a snag in November due to lawsuits and the Supreme Court has taken the issue under review after hearing arguments in February. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Education and Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, Chaired by Rep. James Comer (R-KY) is jointly requesting documents from the Department of Education. The Committees are investigating a scheme to disperse over $6 billion in student loans to 200,000 borrowers through a class action settlement in Sweet v. Cardona. The letter raised concerns that the Biden admin was using this as a way to bypass the lawful process in order to fulfill campaign promises of student loan forgiveness.
Biden’s plan cancels up to $20,000 in federal student loans for 43 million Americans, with 26 million already applying for relief before the legal challenges arose. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Biden’s proposed one-time cancellation would cost approximately $315 billion.
Two Democrats, Rep. Jared Golden (ME), and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA), crossed party lines to join Republicans in a 218-203 vote, supporting the resolution.
In a statement issued Monday, the administration announced it would veto the resolution if approved by Congress, writing:
This resolution is an unprecedented attempt to undercut our historic economic recovery and would deprive more than 40 million hard-working Americans of much-needed student debt relief.
Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget said that the authority for the executive debt cancellation plan was decades-old and granted by Congress to protect borrowers during times of national emergency. Republicans argue that the executive action is an overreach and that Biden bypassed Congress.
If enacted, the measure would nullify Biden’s student loan plan and limit the Department of Education’s ability to erase student loans in the future. It would also retract a recent extension of a payment pause that has been continued since early in the pandemic.
More than 260 organizations opposed to the GOP resolution argue that it would reinstate months of waived interest, triggering immediate repayments for tens of millions of borrowers without ample notice. The organizations also claim that the Public Loan Forgiveness Program would end, which cancels loans for public sector workers like teachers.
House Republicans argue that the student loan bailout will drive the inflation crisis and unfairly ascribe debt to taxpayers who didn’t take out federal student loans.
While Republicans have escalated their opposition to Biden’s student loan agenda in recent weeks, this won’t be solved in the volleyball between the executive and legislative branches. Americans await SCOTUS to decipher the legality of the plan.