scorecardThe House just passed a bill to block student-loan forgiveness and end the payment pause immediately
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The House just passed a bill to block student-loan forgiveness and end the payment pause immediately

Ayelet Sheffey   

The House just passed a bill to block student-loan forgiveness and end the payment pause immediately
PolicyPolicy2 min read
  • A bill to overturn Biden's student-debt relief passed the House by a vote of 218-203.
  • Along with blocking broad debt relief, the bill would also end the payment pause.

The House just passed a bill that would permanently block student-debt relief from reaching millions of borrowers.

On Wednesday, a bill first introduced in March by GOP Rep. Bob Good passed by a vote of 218-203. The bill would overturn President Joe Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers, along with immediately ending the ongoing student-loan payment pause, throwing borrowers back into repayment earlier than expected.

"Biden's student loan transfer scheme should not fall on hard-working Americans who didn't choose to take on heavy college debt or worked hard to pay it off," Good wrote on Twitter on Monday. "It's time to vote away his unconstitutional executive order."

The legislation now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it faces a much bumpier path than the House. And should the bill pass the Senate, the Office of Management and Budget said in a Monday statement that Biden will veto it.

During a Wednesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said ahead of the vote that "to the more than 40 million eligible student borrowers who are eagerly waiting to learn about the fate of their debt relief, I urge you to tune into today's vote to watch which Republican lawmakers shamelessly vote against debt relief for you, after having their own loans forgiven. "

"And know this: President Biden won't stand for it," she said. "He will veto this bill."

This bill was introduced using the Congressional Review Act, which is a fast-track tool Congress can use to overturn final rules put in place by government agencies. Some advocates and Democrats have said that, given the language in the CRA statute, the bill would even reinstate payments made during the student-loan payment pause. The Student Borrower Protection Center and American Federation of Teachers released a report on Tuesday analyzing the impacts of the bill on borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives student debt for government and nonprofit workers after ten years of qualifying payments.

SBPC's Executive Director Mike Pierce said on a Tuesday press call that the CRA is "retroactive," referring to a clause that states that "a rule that does not take effect (or does not continue) may not be reissued in substantially the same form." Pierce said that means the bill will "unwind debt relief already delivered to hundreds of thousands of public service workers across the country. This will happen because the seventh and eighth payment pauses also give credit towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness for each paused month covered by these executive actions,."

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren emphasized that point on Twitter, writing on Tuesday that "Republicans' push to block President Biden's student debt plan could strip away debt relief from more than 260,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters & other public servants according to a report from @AFTunion. We're going to keep fighting back."

Still, GOP lawmakers have rejected that the bill is retroactive, and the Education Department has not yet commented on whether loans could be reinstated under this CRA. During a hearing on the bill last week, House education committee chair Virginia Foxx said that "left-wing advocates are misleading borrowers by, among other things, telling them that they will have to make payments retroactively for the time student-loan payment was paused. That's just not true."




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