Psaki Blames Congress for Lack of Student Debt Relief, Says Biden Would 'Happily' Sign Bill

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the lack of student debt relief stems from disagreements on Capitol Hill, saying that President Joe Biden "would happily sign" a bill cancelling $10,000 in student debt if Congress were able to pass such a measure.

"If Congress wanted to pass and send the president a bill to cancel $10,000 in student debt, he'd happily sign it. That obviously hasn't happened at this point in time," Psaki told reporters during a Wednesday news conference, adding, "There's plenty of time left in his presidency."

While the White House said the president is waiting on Congress, top Democrats have argued that Biden can cancel the debt through executive action.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed the call for Biden to forgive $50,000 in student debt for all borrowers.

"With the flick of the pen, President Biden on his own, without any congressional action or approval, could provide millions upon millions of student loan borrowers with a new lease on life," Schumer said at a virtual summit.

"It would free these Americans to finally buy that house, save on the kids' education, get going on starting a small business or going into the profession that they desire," the senator added. "It could unleash a wave of economic activity missing from our country today."

Others, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have taken a stance closer to that of the White House, saying that the president doesn't have the authority to forgive student loans on his own.

Joe Biden Student Debt Loan Forgiveness Congress
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden "would happily sign" a bill cancelling $10,000 in student debt if Congress could pass a bill forgiving the debt. Biden gestures as he delivers remarks in the White House September 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

More than seven months ago, Biden asked both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to review whether he would have the power to forgive student loan debt through executive action, but the agencies have yet to release their findings.

While nearly $10 billion in student loan debt has been cancelled since Biden took office, calls for more have continued from many progressive lawmakers.

Schumer called the billions that have been forgiven "a step in the right direction," but the Senate majority leader said that "in the grand scheme of things, it falls very, very short of what we need to see."

If Biden goes ahead and forgives the loans under executive action, borrowers should see their balances reduced or eliminated quickly but court action could cause delays.

House Democrats have moved to include a tuition-free community college plan as a provision to the Build Back Better Act, but their razor-thin majority threatens the measure's inclusion in the final $3.5 trillion package.