- A trio of Republican senators announced on Friday will try a new tactic to reverse President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive large amounts of student loan debt, which is currently on hold at the US Supreme Court.
- Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, John Cornyn of Texas and Joni Ernst of Iowa said they would try to block the program using the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, a tool that allows lawmakers to reject recently passed executive actions.
- The latest firestorm against the loan forgiveness plan came after the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the auditing agency for Congress, decided on Friday that it is a federal rule and therefore subject to the CRA.
Conservatives immediately began devising legal strategies after Biden to curtail the president’s loan forgiveness program announced in August. It would wipe out up to $20,000 of debt for borrowers making up to $125,000 a year.
Lawsuits against her have had some success. A federal court ruling halted the program and left its fate up to the Supreme Court, which publicly debated it in February.
The Supreme Court likely won’t rule on the plan for months. But the conservative justices who dominate the high court criticized it plan during the February arguments, signaling its probable demise.
But some Republican senators are not waiting for the decision, saying the program cuts against Americans who have never attended college or paid off their student loans without government help.
“President Biden’s student loan scheme does not ‘forgive’ debt, it merely shifts the burden from those who willingly took out loans to those who never went to college or made sacrifices to pay off their loans,” Cassidy said in a statement.
Action by Republican senators is unlikely to lead anywhere. A resolution to repeal an executive action using the CRA requires a simple majority in both chambers to pass, and Democrats control the Senate. But he is still forcing a vote on the issue.
In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the US Department of Education said it was shameful that “Republican lawmakers continue to fight tooth and nail to deny critical aid to millions of their own constituents affected by the pandemic.”
The spokesman also took aim at the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, decision, saying the Biden administration’s program is rooted in “a decade-old authority granted by Congress and is the result of the same practices used by multiple administrations over the past two decades.” protect borrowers from the effects of national emergencies.
“This long-standing statutory authority has never been subject to congressional review. The GAO’s decision is contrary to clear long-standing practice, and the Department remains fully confident that its debt relief plan complies with the law,” the spokeswoman said.
The GAO considered the program a rule because it met the CRA’s definition of being “an agency pronouncement with prospective effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe a law or policy.”
Education Department officials published the program in the Federal Register, making it an agency announcement that also has prospective effect, the GAO said.
Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina and Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, in the statement applauded the GAO’s decision, he said The Biden administration skirted federal law.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to hold the Biden administration accountable for this illegal, unfair and costly bailout of student loans,” Foxx said.