Can Biden use executive action to cancel student loans?


President Joe Biden speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — President Joe Biden is reportedly exploring whether he has the authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt.

According to Politico, Biden has asked the Secretary of Education to see if the executive branch has the legal authority to take the executive action.

“Hopefully we’ll see that [memo] in the next few weeks. And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that [student debt] and he’ll make a decision,” White House Chief of Staff Klain told Politico on Thursday.

Dozens of Senate Democrats have been seeking to use the Higher Education Act to cancel federal student loan debt, through a plan outlined in September.

One of the resolution’s proponents, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, tweeted Thursday, “Canceling $50,000 of student loan debt will provide a massive stimulus to our economy, help narrow the racial wealth gap, and take a huge burden off of millions of struggling families. President Biden should use his authority to #CancelStudentDebt.”

Warren has said canceling student loan debt would increase homeownership, improve credit scores, produce jobs, and more.

However, in February, when asked about the possibility of $50k student debt cancellation in a CNN Town Hall event, the president said he will ‘not make that happen.’

“I’m prepared to write off $10,000 debt, but not 50, because I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing [an executive order],” Biden said.

This comes days after the U.S. Education Department said it is canceling student debt for more than 40,000 Americans who were previously granted loan forgiveness because of disabilities but later had their debt reinstated after they failed to submit certain paperwork.

Republicans, like Iowa senator Joni Ernst, say loan forgiveness is unfair to other Americans.

“We’re going to forgive $50,000, but we’re going to put it on the back of everybody else, I don’t think that is the right avenue,” Ernst said.

Ernst says struggling borrowers should renegotiate interest rates or defer their loans until they are financially stable.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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