- Progressives continue to push President Biden to cancel student loan debt for millions of borrowers.
- Despite the party’s stalled reconciliation bill, progressives have not relented on this issue.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer has pressed the president to cancel $50,000 in federal student debt per borrower.
Progressive Democrats are pushing President Joe Biden to take action on student loan forgiveness even as party leaders continue to forge a pathway to pass their stalled multitrillion-dollar reconciliation bill.
Roughly 45 million Americans hold $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, according to the US Federal Reserve.
Many of the individuals who took on the burden, alongside progressive lawmakers and consumer advocates, want Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in federally-held student debt per borrower.
The president has so far resisted, questioning whether he has the unilateral authority to make such a move.
Biden said earlier this year that he was “prepared to write off $10,000 in debt,” but large-scale student loan debt overhauls were not included in either the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that passed last March or the “human” infrastructure bill that is focused on childcare, healthcare, and climate policy, among other priorities.
However, for Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the influential Congressional Progressive Caucus, the student loan issue remains front and center.
“Student debt relief is good for people and good for the economy. @POTUS can and must lift the burden of student debt for 43 million Americans,” she tweeted last Thursday.
—Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) October 14, 2021
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also pressed Biden on the issue last week, contending that the president can take action through his executive powers.
“Today would be a great day for President Biden and Vice President Harris to #CancelStudentDebt,” the New York senator tweeted part of a routine that he has employed to call attention to the issue.
—Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 14, 2021
While broad-based cancellation has gained steam among Democrats on Capitol Hill since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Schumer has become more vocal about enacting loan forgiveness since Biden has been in the White House.
Advocates seeking the cancellation of student debt also point to the enthusiasm that it would create among younger voters for Democratic candidates in a year when the party is seeking to defend its slim congressional majorities.
“I think moderates who are running in tough races, this is going to be the difference for them, whether or not student debt gets canceled,” Thomas Gokey, the organizer and co-founder of the Debt Collective, told The Hill.