On Wednesday, the House voted to repeal President Joe Biden’s plan to forgo over $400 billion in federally backed student loan debt.
Lawmakers approved a resolution that disapproved of the president’s student loan forgiveness plan that was announced last year, which is now stalled due to an ongoing legal challenge. The Supreme Court is set to consider the legality of President Biden’s plan later in the summer.
Lawmakers voted 218-203 Wednesday in an attempt to speed up the process and put an end to the president’s plan through legislation. Every GOP member present voted to pass the resolution, along with only two Democrats.
During a debate on the floor, Democrats argued that voting to end President Biden’s plan would hurt around 13% of Americans likely to qualify for loan forgiveness.
“At a time when students need relief the most, Republicans are working to upend loan forgiveness that started under Trump and now continues under President Biden for more than 40 million borrowers,” said Democrat Representative Mark Takano of California
“Why, for the love of God, do Republicans want to continue to punch down on America’s students and divide our country?” Takano asked. “The Biden administration’s student debt relief plan is not a bailout, it is a lifeline, and I implore my Republican colleagues in Congress to speak with borrowers in their own districts about his very issues.”
Another Democrat, Florida Representative Maxwell Frost, argued that GOP opposition to the president’s plan was based on the argument that most Americans don’t need loan repayment aid but that by that logic, Black people and women would have never been allowed to vote.
GOP says Biden does not have the legal authority to dismiss billions of dollars in student debt
Republicans dismissed Democrats’ arguments saying President Biden has no legal authority to dismiss hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt.
According to GOP Representative Bob Good of Virginia, sponsor of the resolution, “In fact, he even admitted that to CNN host Anderson Cooper in February 2021 by saying, ‘I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing with a pen.”
“Why do you bring that bigoted logic to this issue? he asked. Republican Representative, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, asked for those politically charged words to be stricken from the record, and they were removed.
Rep. Foxx argued that the president’s plan only helps the wealthy and goes against the Democrats’ progressive values.
“Student loan cancelation is regressive,” said Foxx. “Two-thirds of this debt transfer plan would go to the top half of earners. It takes from those in the lower half and gives to the upper half.”
She added that the loan repayment pause instituted during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a de facto $65,000 loan cancelation for the average lawyer.
“This is a professional class bailout,” said Foxx. “More specifically, it is a professional class, graduate degree-holder bailout.”
President Biden announced last summer that he would cancel up to $10,000 in student loans for people making less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for students who received Pell Grants. That program was expected to cost the government more than $400 billion in lost debt repayment, but it was put on hold after a court blocked it.
Good’s resolution was written under the Congressional Review Act, allowing Congress to reject a policy by the executive branch as long as the Senate and the House pass a resolution disapproving of the policy. House passage sends it to the Senate, which makes it unlikely to win approval.
If it could be approved in the Senate, the White House said this week that the president would veto it.