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Ranking Member Cassidy Delivers Floor Speech on CRA to Stop President Biden’s Student Loan Schemes

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor on his Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn President Biden’s student debt cancelation and the loan repayment pause, which is estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $600 billion. On March 17th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that President Biden’s student loan policy is classified as a rule and is eligible to be overturned under the CRA. 

Click here to watch Cassidy’s full speech.

Today we introduced a Congressional Review Act, Resolution of Disapproval to overturn the Biden administration’s unfair student loan schemes that transfer the burden of $400 billion in federal student loans from those who willingly took on that debt, to American taxpayers who perhaps never went to college or who have already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans.  

The Resolution would also end the pause on student loan payments which by August will have cost taxpayers almost $200 billion. President Biden has extended this pause 6 times, for a total of 31 months, far beyond the original justification of an ongoing pandemic. 

I’m joined by 38 of my colleagues in offering this resolution.  

Last August, President Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 of federal student loans for most borrowers and to extend the payment and interest accrual pause in student loans via executive fiat.  

Make no mistake, this reckless student loan scheme does not “forgive” debt, it simply transfers the burden from those who willingly took out loans for college in order to make more money when they graduated, to Americans who never attended college or who already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans.  

Where is the forgiveness for the guy who didn’t go to college but is working to pay off the loan on the truck he takes to work? What about the woman who paid off her student loans, but is now struggling to afford her mortgage? Is the administration providing them relief? Of course not. Instead, the administration would have them pay not only their bills, but the bills of those who decided to go to college in order to make more money in the future. This is an irresponsible and unfair policy. 

This plan does nothing to address the problems that created the debt in the first place. It doesn’t hold colleges or universities accountable for rising costs. According to the College Board, in the last 30 years tuition and fees have jumped at private non-profit colleges by 80% and at public four-year institutions by 124%.  

And it doesn’t ensure students are prepared for life after college. It creates a terrible moral hazard that tells students that federal student loans aren’t real commitments and tells colleges that no matter how high they raise their prices or what product they produce, the federal government will cover the tab courtesy of the American taxpayer. 

Our resolution prevents average Americans, the 87 percent of whom currently have no student loans, from being stuck with a policy that the administration is doing not to be fair to all, but rather to favor the few.  

Our resolution also protects the rule of law, which President Biden must know he is violating.   

During Supreme Court arguments on the legality of the student loan forgiveness in February, Justice Roberts clearly indicated that if $400 billion was to be spent on student loan cancelation it would require Congressional approval. That has not been given. 

This is a clear example of this administration attempting to subvert Congress for what appears to be purely political purposes. It sets a wildly dangerous precedent if it is left unchecked.  

For Americans who cannot afford their debt or want a proactive approach to paying off their loan commitments, Congress has already authorized 31 different active programs that help pay or forgive student loans. I ask unanimous consent to insert in the record the list of federal programs already available to Americans who are struggling to repay their loans, work in public service, or are in high-demand fields.  

They range from total forgiveness under Public Student Loan Forgiveness, PSLF; Stafford loans for teachers; and Perkins loans cancellations for law enforcement officers, military, early childhood educators, and social workers to name a few. There are also repayment programs for high demand fields where education is specialized, and the need is a public good. For example, through the Department of Health and Human services, therapists, and behavior health providers who are needed to help our children as we face a mental health crisis are eligible for loan repayment.

In addition, there are repayment policies that are related to the income of an individual. There are five different programs that keep payments low compared to their income and cap the total time for repayment. 

The mass transfer of debt under this Reckless Student Loan Scheme forgets that these existing programs were set up to target limited taxpayer resources to benefit those using their degrees to serve and to fill broader public needs or who could demonstrate that they themselves had a personal individual need. 

What benefit does the G.I. bill hold when students can just wait to have their student loans forgiven? Why contribute to your community by teaching in a public school while getting your federal loans paid off through your service when you can just wait for President Biden to forgive your loans? Irresponsible policies like President Biden’s Student Loan Scheme weaken these incentives and discourage Americans from going into public service.   

President Biden and Secretary Cardona, Come to the table. There are real problems in the student loan system and federal financing of higher education. Let’s fix them legally, through a lasting bipartisan solution. 

I will close by encouraging all my colleagues to join me in supporting this Congressional Review Act resolution to prevent this unconstitutional student debt forgiveness scheme. It is unfair to the hundreds of millions of Americans who will bear the burden of paying off hundreds of billions of dollars of someone else's student debt.