President Joe Biden reportedly told a group of House Democrats this week that he is exploring how to cancel all outstanding student loan debt.
As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for every borrower. He has not yet followed through on that promise. However, he has repeatedly extended the COVID-related moratorium on student loan payments.
Outstanding federal student loan debt currently stands at $1.6 trillion.
What are the details?
During a private meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday, Biden confirmed that he is exploring what executive action he can take to cancel student loan debt.
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) disclosed to CBS News that he told Biden at the meeting that his caucus supports canceling $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower. In response, Cardenas explained the president "smiled and said, 'You're going to like what I do on that, I'm looking to do something on that and I think you're going to like what I do.'"
Another lawmaker who attended the meeting anonymously told CBS News the White House is even exploring canceling all student loan debt.
"They're looking at different options on what they can do. On forgiving it entirely. That was our request," the lawmaker said.
While moderate lawmakers support canceling some student loan debt, progressive Democrats want to cancel all of it as an act of social justice.
"Student debt cancellation is racial justice. Student debt cancellation is gender justice. Student debt cancellation is economic justice," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said earlier this month.
What is the WH saying?
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the White House, while not yet making a determination about the president's authority to unilaterally cancel student loan debt, will announce any decision on debt cancellation before the payment moratorium expires on Aug. 31.
Thus far, the Biden administration has forgiven $17 billion in student loans, Forbes reported.
However, canceling all student loan debt via executive action would create an entirely new set of issues. Critics would immediately challenge Biden's action in court, leaving borrowers in limbo for an unknown amount of time. On the other hand, legislation passed by Congress with bipartisan support would be less vulnerable to legal challenges. But Congress is unlikely to pass such legislation in the near future.