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'String of reckless attempts': 130 Republicans urge Biden to abandon student debt 'forgiveness' plan

'String of reckless attempts': 130 Republicans urge Biden to abandon student debt 'forgiveness' plan

Biden administration is using borrowers 'as political pawns,' lawmakers say.

A group of 130 Republican lawmakers sent a letter on Friday to the United States Department of Education demanding the Biden administration reverse its federal student loan "forgiveness" plan that requires American taxpayers to foot the bill for student borrowers.

An April report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the administration's sweeping debt cancellations could add up to $750 billion to the national deficit.

Last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's attempt to unilaterally zero out federal student loan debt for borrowers. Since then, the White House has rolled out multiple smaller but similar programs through its Saving on a Valuable Education Plan, a new income-driven repayment plan that sets monthly payments based on borrowers' income.

'Backdoor attempt to enact 'free' college.'

In a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Republican lawmakers wrote, "The latest Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) proposed by your Department of Education (Department) on April 17, 2024, represents the latest in a string of reckless attempts to transfer as much as $1 trillion of student loan debt from those who willingly borrowed to those who did not or have already repaid their loans."

The proposed NPRM mentioned in the letter refers to a recent White House proposal "to provide targeted debt relief" by "modify[ing] the Department's existing debt collection regulations to provide greater specificity regarding certain non-exhaustive situations in which the Secretary may exercise discretion to waive all or part of any debts owed to the Department," according to a Federal Register filing. The rule would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965.

"We strongly urge you to withdraw it," the Republicans' letter read.

"The Biden administration describes this regulation as 'targeted relief,' yet the Department's own estimates show the opposite. This is even broader than the Department's first attempt: at an estimated price tag of $147 billion, taxpayers are being forced to take on the debt of nearly 28 million borrowers," the letter continued. "Moreover, while the Department likely does not wish to highlight how much their proposal would help the wealthy, outside estimates show that borrowers eligible for 'relief' under certain provisions in this proposal will have a typical income of over $300,000."

Republicans, led by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), called the proposal "fiscally irresponsible" and a "backdoor attempt to enact 'free' college." The lawmakers accused the administration of "us[ing] borrowers as political pawns knowing full well these proposed actions are illegal."

Lawmakers contended that the Supreme Court had already ruled the White House's "Plan A" debt write-off unconstitutional. The administration's new strategy, "Plan B," is "almost double the cost of 'Plan A,'" they wrote.

"'Plan B' hinges on creating these extensive regulations based on scant statutory text written in 1965," the letter explained. "It is certain that drafters in 1965 through the last reauthorization in 2008, did not contemplate that these words would be used to cancel massive portions of student loan balances. This statute has no history of broad use by any previous Secretary and was previously deemed by this administration as less likely to hold up in court than 'Plan A.'"

Some of the other lawmakers to sign the correspondence to Cardona included Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →