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Politics Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrats ask Biden to release memo detailing his power to cancel student loan debt

23:10  08 october  2021
23:10  08 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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WASHINGTON — Eighteen members of Congress, led by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., signed a letter Friday addressed to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging the release of a memo on the administration's authority over student loan debt cancellation.

Ilhan Omar wearing a hat and smiling at the camera: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, speaks during a news conference on St. Paul, Minnesota. © Stephen Maturen/Getty Images Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, speaks during a news conference on St. Paul, Minnesota.

"Decades ago, Congress voted to authorize the executive branch to cancel federal student loans. Federal student debt can be canceled with the 'flick of your pen.' This authority is already being put to use, as it is currently being used to cancel the interest owed on all federally-held student loans," the members wrote.

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  Biden goes on offense against 'reckless and dangerous' GOP on debt ceiling The White House is going on the offensive in its debt ceiling standoff, trying to portray Democrats as the "adults in the room" as Republicans risk putting the federal government into default. © Provided by Washington Examiner With only two weeks before Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen projects her department will not be able to pay the country's financial obligations on time, the administration argues the debt limit needs to be raised because of congressional Republicans and former President Donald Trump's policies, not theirs.

The Education Department has already forgiven debt for a select group of borrowers — including 1,800 victims of for-profit college fraud and borrowers with disabilities. The administration also introduced a sweeping overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and extended a pause on loan repayments until the end of January 2022 amid the pandemic.

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But Democrats in Congress argue Biden can eliminate student loan debt with an executive order. Not doing so, they say, will perpetuate racial and economic inequality.

Student loan debt affects Black borrowers disproportionately compared to white, Asian and Latino borrowers. Black borrowers also earn less over time and are less likely to pay off their debt and most likely to fall behind on payments.

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  Why lawmakers are fighting over the debt ceiling — again Republicans are using the debt ceiling to send a political message.Lawmakers are now back at the brink, scrambling to pass a suspension to the debt limit — a legal cap to how much the country can borrow — even as they wrestle with approving an expansive infrastructure package and social spending bill. According to estimates from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, lawmakers have until October 18 to avoid a potential default.

"With a single signature, you can improve the economy, create new jobs, transform the lives of 45 million Americans, narrow the racial wealth gap, and maintain the trust of voters," the members wrote.

Months ago, progressives pushed for forgiveness on at least $50,000 for borrowers, but the letter released Friday calls for total student loan debt cancellation.

"Now it is time for you to honor your campaign pledge and use this authority to cancel all student debt," the letter states.

Biden pledged to cancel $10,000 in debt for all borrowers during the 2020 presidential campaign. And earlier this year, he asked the Justice and Education Departments to produce a memo on the president's authority to cancel student loan debt. Neither department has released findings.

According to the letter, members of the House and Senate say Biden is authorized to broadly cancel debt through section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act, which says the Secretary of Education can "enforce, pay, compromise, waive, or release any right" to collect on federal loans.

Opinion: The student debt promise Biden hasn't made good on

  Opinion: The student debt promise Biden hasn't made good on Looking at Biden's campaign promise to cancel $10,000 in student debt per person in response to the economic hardships of the pandemic and the fact that the US Department of Education announced that ​​its Covid-related repayment and interest moratorium will end on Jan. 31, 2022, David Perry says Biden needs to be bolder and forgive as much student loan debt as possible for as many people as possible. It's good politics, and once done, will be hard for Republicans to undo. It's extremely good economics, as student loan debt holds tens of millions of people back. And it's about damn time.

In 2019, Omar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., introduced the Student Debt Cancellation Act to cancel all public and private student loan debt.

Nearly 44 million Americans owe about $1.7 trillion in student loans, according to Federal Reserve data.

Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrats ask Biden to release memo detailing his power to cancel student loan debt

Progressives Escalate Pressure on Biden to Cancel Student Debt: 'Good for the Economy' .
With nearly 45 million individuals receiving a bill each month, Americans now owe about $1.7 trillion in student loans.Young adults have been drowning in student loan debt—which has more than tripled since 2000—for years after they graduate. With nearly 45 million individuals receiving a bill each month, Americans now owe about $1.7 trillion in student loans, more than the nation's total debt on auto loans and credit cards.

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