2 GOP lawmakers are looking into whether Biden's student-loan forgiveness is a 'serious ethics violation' and benefits staffers who helped craft the policy
- GOP Reps. Foxx and Comer want investigations into the ethics of Biden's student-loan forgiveness.
- They're concerned that the staffers who helped craft the policy could stand to benefit from it.
Two Republican lawmakers renewed their concerns that President Joe Biden's staffers could benefit from his recent student-loan forgiveness policy.
On Thursday, Ranking Member on the Committee on Oversight and Reform James Comer and Ranking Member on the Committee on Education and Labor Virginia Foxx wrote a letter to the White House regarding potential ethics violations with Biden's $20,000 student-loan forgiveness plan announced in August. Specifically, in the letter — addressed to Counsel to the President Stuart Delery — the two Republican lawmakers said they are looking into whether "officials who worked on the student loan bailout will personally benefit from this financial windfall."
"Many hardworking taxpayers do not hold a college degree or made difficult financial decisions to finance their degree either without borrowing from taxpayers or by paying off their student loans as promised," they wrote. "We are concerned that political officials may have committed serious ethics violations if they provided advice and counsel or drafted the bailout scheme from which they financially benefited."
This isn't the first time Foxx and Comer raised these concerns — in June, they sent a letter to the US Office of Government Ethics requesting information on the same thing, saying that any potential relief would "explicitly violate President Biden's Ethics Pledge, which requires that every appointee in every executive agency contractually pledge to make decisions exclusively within the public interest and without regard to personal benefit or gain."
In the Thursday letter, the lawmakers cited a report from Bloomberg that found at least 30 senior White House staffers have student-loan balances collectively owing as much as $4.7 million in debt, and they requested information on all employees who could stand to benefit from debt relief, along with any ethics pledges pertaining to those individuals, by September 29.
The White House has not yet given a direct response to Foxx and Comer's concerns. When asked about the letter during a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she had not yet read the letter and could not comment on it specifically.
"What I can tell you is the facts, which is how this is going to give some breathing room to 90% of the people making less than $75,000 a year," Jean-Pierre said. "That matters, and it's going to be a gamechanger."
—Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) September 15, 2022
Since Biden announced the debt relief, Republicans have been on the offense, pursuing many routes to attempt to prevent the loan forgiveness from coming to fruition. Along with requesting oversight on the policy, some lawmakers, including Foxx and Sen. Ted Cruz, have expressed intent to pursue lawsuits that could overturn the policy — even as the White House maintains it has the legal authority to implement broad relief under the HEROES Act of 2003, which allows modification of student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19.
Amid GOP pushback, Democratic lawmakers are blasting Republicans for trying to take relief away from millions of working Americans. After Sen. Rick Scott tried to pass a bill that would block the relief, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday called it a "shameful attempt by Republicans to keep working Americans buried under mountains of student debt."
"Now, Republicans are happy to pass out tax breaks and regulatory loopholes for billionaires and giant corporations, but they are fighting tooth and nail to keep working families from getting a penny of relief," she said.
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