WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's two U.S. Senators on Thursday joined many of their Democratic colleagues in calling for President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in American student loan debt.
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined other Democrats in reintroducing a resolution calling on the President to use his executive authority under the Higher Education Act and cancel loan debt — also ensuring there is no tax liability for Federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt cancellation.
I was proud to be with @ChuckSchumer, @AyannaPressley, and others today to lay out a bold plan for how Joe Biden can use executive authority to deliver meaningful relief to struggling Americans by canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt. We can get this done and we must.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 4, 2021
“The COVID-19 pandemic took a wrecking ball to our economy, making the burden of student debt even more crushing for the millions who bear it,” Wyden said. “While President Biden has ensured payments on federal student debt are paused until the fall, he has the authority to step in and automatically forgive $50,000 in student debt for folks in Oregon and nationwide who are struggling to make ends meet. This move would not only help bolster the economy by virtually putting money back in people’s pockets, it would make a tangible difference in the lives of millions by alleviating a substantial threat to their financial security.”
The Senators cited data that more than 43 million people in the U.S. currently carry roughly $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. They argue that forgiveness of some of this debt would provide "immediate relief" to millions of Americans during the pandemic, and help to narrow the racial wealth gap.
“An affordable, high-quality education should be within reach for every American who wants one,” said Merkley. “It’s ridiculous that so many students are forced to take on back-breaking amounts of debt to go to school — especially as the coronavirus continues to upend our economy. It’s time to cancel student loan debts so we can free up Americans burdened by student debt to chase their dreams, contribute to their communities, and help us pave the way to economic recovery.”
The ability to relieve student loan debt was granted to the Secretary of Education by Congress in 1965, the lawmakers said, though past use of this power has been much more narrow in scope. That power is currently being used to freeze student loan repayment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution introduced on Thursday calls on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in debt through the Department of Education, prevent any consequent tax liability, and continue the pause on loan repayments and interest through the remainder of the pandemic.