Pupil mortgage debt aid may very well be nearer than ever, however the challenges stay
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, speaks as House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, right, listens during a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC, the United States.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
With the Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, student debt relief is a better chance of becoming a reality for millions of Americans.
Still, there are obstacles.
Will debt relief be a priority for the fledgling Biden government, amid duels and unprecedented health and economic crises?
“They probably created a hierarchy of laws that they consider important,” said Richard Semiatin, assistant professor at American University. “This is unlikely to be on the first stage.”
In the campaign, President-elect Joe Biden pledged to cancel $ 10,000 debt for all borrowers in response to the economic troubles caused by the pandemic, and the remainder of the loans for those in public or historically black colleges and universities visited earn less than $ 125,000 a year.
“We expect him to keep that promise,” said Persis Yu, director of the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.
A recent poll found that 58% of registered voters are in favor of paying off student debt.
Administrative or legislative forgiveness?
Some Democratic senators are pressuring Biden to bypass Congress and reduce the debt himself.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Recently described student debt relief as “the most effective economic stimulus that can be achieved by executive action.” Meanwhile, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is calling on Biden to lend $ 50,000 per borrower on the first day of his presidency. “All you need is the movement of a pen,” said Schumer in December. “You don’t need a congress.”
Not everyone agrees. Experts say Biden would likely be brought to justice if he canceled the debt himself.
And now that the Democrats have won a majority in Congress, the legislative path seems more hopeful. However, it is a long way from hopeful to borrowers whose debt is reduced or eliminated.
Even with the two Democratic Senate seats in Georgia, the party has just gained a majority and will need Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to garner 51 votes against the 50 Republicans.
Not all Democrats may be on board for student debt relief, and even if they were, the rules of procedure in the Senate generally require the legislation to receive 60 votes. It will be difficult to get nine Republicans on a debt anniversary.
“With democratic scrutiny of government, Republicans are likely to reaffirm their interest in the federal deficit and government spending,” said Laurel Harbridge-Yong, associate professor at Northwestern University.
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However, there may be a way to bypass these rules. A once-a-year legislative process known as budget balancing will allow Democrats to pass laws by simple majority. In 2010 the Democrats pushed through the final version of the Affordable Care Act. So the Republicans passed their massive tax cuts in 2017.
There are limits to this method, however, said Ryan D. Doerfler, a law professor at the University of Chicago. “Democrats can only use reconciliation procedures three times in the next two years,” he said. Since this procedure can only be used once a year, there is usually a lot of competition over what to include, and this is especially true during the pandemic.
Legislation on reconciliation must also address budget changes, and Senators can try to block provisions they claim aren’t.
Given the uncertainty surrounding passing laws to cancel student debt, lawyers and Democrats continue to urge Biden to administratively cancel the loans. Borrowers cannot afford to wait for relief.
“President Biden has the historic opportunity to improve the lives of tens of millions of American families struggling amid a national crisis,” said Seth Frotman, who served as student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration.