Biden Possibly Canceling Student Loan Debt Sparks Fight With Republicans

As President Joe Biden reportedly weighs taking executive action to cancel student loan debt, a group of Republican senators are assembling proposed legislation that would prevent him from making such a move.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, Senator Richard Burr, Senator Mike Braun, Senator Bill Cassidy, and Dr. Roger Marshall, a Kansas senator, jointly announced legislation Wednesday that they referred to as the "common-sense bill." The bill would block Biden from canceling student loan debt, impose limits on how long an administration can halt student debt payments, and add a congressional review to any instance where the president or secretary of education suspends or defers federal student loan payments.

"Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the President or the Secretary of Education may not cancel the outstanding balances, or a portion of the balances, on covered loans due to the COVID-19 national emergency or any other national emergency," the bill reads.

The legislation was announced as Biden faces mounting pressure to ease student debt burdens on borrowers in the U.S. While Biden was campaigning during his run for the presidential office, he expressed support for forgiving at least $10,000 in student loans per person, but so far has not turned that declaration into reality.

The bill seeks to amend the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, which it said that the executive branch "abused" during the COVID-19 national emergency in regard to federal student loan pauses.

Biden Possibly Canceling Student Loan Debt Sparks
As President Joe Biden reportedly weighs taking executive action to cancel student loan debt, a group of Republican senators are fighting back with proposed legislation that would prevent him from making such a move. Above, Senator John Thune (R-SD) speaks at a news conference following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol Building on April 05, 2022 in Washington, DC Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Under the proposed legislation, neither the president nor secretary of education would be permitted to suspend or defer federal student loan payments for borrowers with annual household incomes over 400 percent of the poverty line.

Under the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) annual poverty guidelines for 2022, the poverty line for a one-person household in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia was an annual income of $13,590. For that poverty line, 400 percent over would be an individual annual income of $54,360.

In 2020, 62.3 percent of U.S. households had an annual income of at least $50,000, according to a Statista income distribution chart. If the income distribution in present day is similar to the distribution in 2020, a majority of households could potentially be excluded from suspensions or deferments of federal student loan payments if the bill became law.

In a statement obtained by Fox News, Thune said: "As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligation. Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of repayment."

"This common-sense legislation would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending federal student loan repayments in perpetuity," Thune added.

Last week, the Biden administration announced a new plan that would result in immediate debt forgiveness for about 40,000 borrowers. But progressive Democrats called on Biden to go even further by using his executive authority to cancel all student loan debt.

In an appearance on the "Pod Save America" podcast earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden could decide on whether to cancel student loan debt by September. He extended the federal student loan moratorium earlier this month until August 31, 2022.

Psaki said on the podcast, which aired April 15, ​​that between then and August 31 the moratorium will either be extended again or "we're going to make a decision" about canceling student debt, Newsweek previously reported.

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Thune's office for comment.