An increasing number of progressive House Democrats have been pressing President Biden to use his executive power to make student loan forgiveness possible.
The clamor heightened after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, along with Democratic Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts cited Section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act, as a legal passage that gives the incumbent president the authority to direct the Education Secretary to either enter into a compromise, to waive or to release any right of redemption over the roughly $1.5 trillion loans owed by students.
The progressive House members argue that the majority of those borrowers are Black voters disproportionately burdened by the student loans, and that they were instrumental in propelling Biden into the Oval Office.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi countered the argument by stating in her Wednesday press conference that contrary to popular belief, the U.S. President, the President of the United States does not have the power to forgive loans. According to Pelosi, President Biden’s authority is limited to postponing or delaying the collection of student loans but his legal authority does not extend to debt forgiveness. She added that such an action has to be an act of Congress.
Yet as House Speaker Pelosi also said that she does not support wide-scale student loan cancellation, her statement essentially quashed any prospects of putting forward a legislation that will cancel up to $50K in individual debts owed by more than 40 million borrowers..
President Biden’s Stance on the Calls for Student Loan Forgiveness
While the progresive members of the House Democrats are saying that President Biden owes his presidential win to the Black voters, the current POTUS has been clear during his presidential campaign that he does not advocate wide-scale student loan forgiveness. He believes that in effect, taxpayers would also be paying for the student loans of the wealthy borrowers.
Although the President stated in February that he will not allow it to happen, reports have it that in April, the POTUS had instructed Education Department Secretary Cardona to prepare a memo that would discuss his legal authority regarding student loan cancellations. In addition, President Biden remarked that he is open to discussions of canceling up to $10,000 of a student debt.
What he prefers is to utilize federal money in making community colleges free for all students. Additionally, he prefers proposing a law that will make 4 years of state university education free to families earning less than $125,000 as household income. As for the Black voters, he would rather infuse more federal resources into historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other institutions that serve the minority.
As an example, he mentioned that adding top-notch science and technology laboratory facilities to their schools will open up opportunities for them to take on lucrative government contracts.