Senate passes bill to repeal Biden’s student loan forgiveness program

The Senate voted on Thursday to torpedo President Biden’s student debt relief package.

The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 52 to 46, marking the latest blow to Mr Biden’s signature to provide student loan forgiveness to tens of millions of Americans.

The White House has made it clear that Mr. Biden plans to veto the bill, increasing the likelihood that the fate of the program will be decided by the courts.

Republicans have strongly opposed the student loan forgiveness program since Mr. Biden announced in August that the federal government would forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans per borrower.

The proposal passed the House on a 218-203 vote last month with the support of two Democrats.

The Senate vote came a day after the House passed a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit that would force people to start paying off student loan debt again after a three-year pause that was put in place. place in response to the coronavirus.

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Under the debt deal, payments would begin around September 1.

Senate Republicans also received a helping hand Thursday from moderate members who caucus with Democrats: Sens. Joseph Manchin III of West Virginia, John Tester of Montana and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Mr Manchin, Mr Tester and Ms Sinema, who changed their party affiliation to independent from Democrat late last year, are eligible for re-election in 2024.

“There are a number of problems with the president’s plan to cancel student debt,” Sen. John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said before the vote. “I say ‘forgive’ student debt, but that’s more like shifting the cost of student debt from the relatively small percentage of taxpayers in this country with student debt to American taxpayers as a whole.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face for Americans who have chosen more affordable college options or who have worked their way through school to avoid taking out student loans or whose parents have saved and saved up to get them to attend college. university,” he said.

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Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, pushed back.

“The cold, hard reality is that if Republicans were successful and passed this bill, people across the country would be snatched away from the relief they counted on, the plans they made, less money in their pockets. , and the monthly payments not only restarted abruptly – but maybe even increased abruptly by hundreds of dollars,” Ms Murray said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, said the move was a matter of fairness to taxpayers.

“The president’s student loan programs don’t ‘renounce’ debt, they simply shift the burden from those who have chosen to take out loans to those who have never gone to college or who have already fulfilled their commitment to repay their loans,” he said. “Our bipartisan resolve prevents average Americans, 87 percent of whom currently have no student loans, from being forced to foot the bill for these unjust and irresponsible policies.”

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The issue also landed in the Supreme Court earlier this year, where Republican-appointed justices questioned the fairness of the plan and questioned why Congress did not participate in the $400 billion program.

The court is expected to decide later this month whether the president has unilateral authority to create the program.

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