Jen Psaki dodged a question about the 2022 election consequences of Biden's refusal to cancel additional student debt
Jen Psakion Thursday dodged a question about the 2022 election consequences of student debt.
- Psaki cited a strong economic recovery and $15 billion in student loans that Biden already canceled.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, dodged a question on Thursday about whether President Joe Biden could hurt the Democratic Party's chances in the 2022 midterms by not canceling more student debt.
Federal student-loan payments, which have been paused for nearly two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to restart in May. Numerous Democratic lawmakers have pressed the Biden administration to extend the pause, and 85 of them sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday asking for a memo with more answers on the administration's legal authority for broader student-debt cancellations.
"Is the president worried at all about slapping millions of student borrowers with their monthly obligations of hundreds or thousands of dollars toward their student-loan payments several months ahead of an election cycle when he's then going to run around to those same college-educated voters and ask them to vote for Democrats in November?" a reporter asked at Thursday's briefing.
"First, no one has been required to pay a single dime of federal student loans since the president took office," Psaki said, echoing comments she made during Wednesday's briefing. "I'm not sure there's another time in history where that has been the case in the first year of a presidency."
Psaki added: "At the same time, our
"Obviously, as we get closer to the timeline in May, we will have to make a decision about what's next, and we've obviously been clear about what we're preparing for. But the president's going to make these decisions based on what we're seeing in economic data and what we feel is certainly needed at the time."
The reporter then asked about people who wanted to know why some borrowers, and not others, had gotten their loans canceled. The Biden administration previously canceled $15 billion in debt for 675,000 borrowers because of their eligibility for public-service loan forgiveness or total and permanent disability.
"If Congress sends him a bill to cancel $10,000 in student debt, he'd be happy to sign that into law," Psaki said.
This is not the first time Biden's administration has ducked questions on broad student-debt relief. While Biden promised during his campaign to cancel $10,000 in student debt for every federal borrower, he has since been largely silent on that promise. During his first solo press conference of 2022, Biden ignored a question on whether he planned to fulfill that promise.
And on Wednesday, after the 85 Democratic lawmakers sent their letter, Psaki once again touted the relief the administration had already provided for the 43 million federal-student-loan borrowers and said Biden would sign a bill passed by Congress for any additional broad relief.
It's unclear whether Biden will enact broad student-loan forgiveness, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona made clear during a Thursday speech that this form of relief was not on the department's list of priorities to tackle college affordability.
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