As the Supreme Court weighs whether President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is constitutional, several Democratic lawmakers agreed to a bill that would block the proposal from being enacted.
On Wednesday, two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, approved a procedure that would have put the bill up for a vote in the Senate. The bill would have needed 10 Democratic votes to have a floor vote. Former Democrat and now independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined the two Democrats and entire GOP caucus in voting in favor of the procedure.
Wednesday’s vote comes a week after the House approved the bill by a 218-203 margin. Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington voted in favor.
President Biden's plan calls for borrowers with incomes of up to $125,000 to receive up to $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness. That amount increases to $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell Grants.
Republicans have argued that President Biden doesn’t have the power to forgive federal student loans. A ruling could come from the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.
“President Biden’s student loan transfer scheme shifts hundreds of billions of dollars of payments from student loan borrowers onto the backs of the American people,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Bob Good, R-Virginia. “I am proud to lead the fight against President Biden’s reckless, unilateral, and unauthorized action that would unfairly penalize those who worked hard to pay off their loans or who never took them out in the first place.”
If Biden’s plan is rejected by the Supreme Court, the recent votes show Democrats may not be able to issue student loan forgiveness through Congress. Calls among progressives to forgive federal student loan debt grew before President Biden took office as figures show the cost of a college education has grown in recent decades.
“We simply cannot afford to add another $400 billion to the national debt,” Manchin said, citing Congressional Budget Office estimates. “There are already more than 50 existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs aimed at attracting individuals to vital service jobs, such as teachers, health care workers, and public servants. This Biden proposal undermines these programs and forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost.”
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