Biden will not release a note on the student debt cancellation authority yet
- Biden last April asked the Department of Education to write a memo about his ability to cancel student debt.
- Documents from October revealed that the memorandum had existed since April 2021 but had yet to be released.
- Lawmakers urged Biden to release the memo to provide certainty about a broad reduction in student debt.
On April 1, 2021, President Joe Biden asked the Department of Education to prepare a memo about his legal ability to cancel student debt.
On November 1, Insider received documents drafted by the Debt Collective – the nation’s first debtors union – showing that the memorandum had existed as of April 5, 2021 and circulated among White House executives on the same day.
Now, a year after the memo was created and two extensions of the student loan payment break, borrowers and lawmakers want answers.
“While I welcome the extension of the student loan moratorium, I still believe we owe it to the 43 million Americans with student loan debt to completely write off that debt,” Minnesota Rep Ilhan Omar said in a statement to Insider. “Unfortunately, a year after it was promised, we still haven’t seen the note the administration promised on student debt cancellation.”
When Biden was on the campaign trail, his intentions to manage the $ 1.7 trillion student debt crisis seemed clear. He promised voters that he would approve a $ 10,000 student loan amnesty for every federal borrower and said it would be a top priority for him in reforming long-interrupted loan forgiveness programs.
Although he has taken action on the latter, the former remains dissatisfied and borrowers and lawmakers are becoming frustrated as Biden hangs on a promise many voters rely on.
In October, before the drafted documents were released, Omar led his fellow Democrats in giving the president a two-week deadline to deliver the note. In January, she joined 84 of her colleagues to push not only the release of the memo, but also an extension of the student loan payment hiatus, which Biden ended up implementing last week through August 31.
But more than a year has passed, and Omar told Insider that it had been a long time for Biden to be transparent with his constituents.
“When the leaders of the Progressive Caucus and I met with the president earlier this month, we emphasized the importance of not only suspending but also canceling student debt,” Omar said.
“The President has full authority to cancel this debt,” he added, “and we hope he will.”
When Insider asked for comment, a spokesperson replied, “The Education Department continues to consider its options for implementing broad debt relief through enforcement action.”
The White House has “chosen to sit idle while families suffer financially”
Although the vast majority of the student debt note was drafted before Insider received it, the documents revealed some information regarding the communication process within the administration relating to the creation of the note.
For example, a Department of Education official wrote that based on internal emails in April 2021, the department “would likely be preparing an updated version of the memo prepared in February,” suggesting that the administration would could have stayed on a reminder even longer.
Braxton Brewington, the Debt Collective’s press officer, told Insider at the time that the decision not to publish the memorandum was a “political decision,” and reiterated that sentiment in a statement this month.
“It has been a year since the White House was informed of their authority to extensively cancel student debt and yet they have chosen to sit idle while families suffer financially,” Brewington said. “It is clear that the brake on student debt cancellation is not due to a flawed legal analysis, but rather a lack of political will, which makes even less sense as most Americans support student debt cancellation. It’s time for Biden to act. “
After Biden’s fourth extension of the student loan pause last week, Insider reported that neither Democratic nor Republican lawmakers were happy with the relief.
While the GOP wanted an end to broad relief, the Democrats wanted even more relief, saying that if Biden could continue to extend the hiatus, there’s no reason he couldn’t write off student debt and make permanent reforms to the industry. student loans.
It is unclear whether further aid will come for student loan borrowers once September arrives.
“I am happy to see the President extend the moratorium on student loans,” Omar he wrote on Twitter. “Once this extension expires, it should extend it again. And then after, again. And then again, and again … you actually know what, why don’t we just delete it?”