3 GOP lawmakers just introduced a plan for Congress to overturn Biden's student-loan forgiveness

3 GOP lawmakers just introduced a plan for Congress to overturn Biden's student-loan forgiveness
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • 3 GOP lawmakers announced plans to overturn Biden's student-debt relief using the Congressional Review Act on Friday.
  • The Act is an oversight tool Congress can use to overturn final rules put in place by federal agencies.

Republican lawmakers just introduced a new way to block President Joe Biden's student-debt relief plan.

On Friday, GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy, John Cornyn, and Joni Ernst announced their plan to put forth a Congressional Review Act, or CRA, resolution to overturn Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year.

The CRA is an oversight tool that Congress can use to overturn final rules put in place by government agencies. The Senate education committee asked the Government Accountability Office whether Biden's debt relief plan would qualify as a rule that could be impacted by the CRA, and the GAO responded on Friday that the plan meets "the definition of a rule under CRA and that no exception applies. Therefore, ED's Waivers and Modifications are subject to the requirement that they be submitted to Congress."

"President Biden's student loan scheme does not 'forgive' debt, it just transfers the burden from those who willingly took out loans to those who never went to college, or sacrificed to pay their loans off," Cassidy said in a statement. "Where is the relief for the man who skipped college but is paying off his work truck, or the woman who paid off her loans and is now struggling to afford her mortgage? This resolution prevents these Americans, whose debts look different from the favored group the Biden administration has selected, from picking up the bill for this irresponsible and unfair policy."

As the GAO explained in its decision, the CRA was enacted in 1996 to "strengthen congressional oversight of agency rulemaking." Since the Education Department published its debt relief plan on the Federal Register and it implements law and policy by "waiving and modifying" student-loan balances, the GAO considers it a rule subject to congressional review.


Still, the Education Department said in its response that the debt relief plan should not be subject to CRA because it's a "one-time, fact-bound application of existing and statutorily prescribed waiver and modification authority."

Since Biden announced the broad debt relief plan in August, it ran into challenges not only by GOP lawmakers, but conservative-backed groups who filed lawsuits to block the plan. In November, two of those lawsuits succeeded in pausing the relief's implementation, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the cases last month. It will issue a decision on the legality of Biden's relief by June. Until then, millions of borrowers just have to wait and see whether they will resume repayment this year with any relief.

Clearly, Republican lawmakers don't want to wait for a Supreme Court decision. Along with the CRA resolution on Friday, some GOP lawmakers have also introduced bills to block student-debt relief and end the student-loan payment pause, currently set to expire 60 days after June 30, or 60 days after the lawsuits are resolved, whichever happens first.

The House education committee is also holding a hearing next week to examine Biden's student-loan policies, with Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Chair Burgess Owens saying in a statement that "Biden lacks the executive authority to implement his $1 trillion executive re-write of the federal student loan program and overlooks this single basic fact: Debt cannot be canceled, only transferred from those who borrowed to those who did not."