Democrats demand the release of student debt memos from the White House

national politics, Politics

Rachel Phillips, staff

Header Image: Chuck Schumer via Twitter

Dozens of Democratic leaders, including House majority leader Chuck Schumer, are calling on President Biden to fulfill one of his largest campaign promises: to cancel student debt. Despite the president’s previous interest in a loan forgiveness program, he expressed skepticism at his legal ability to implement wide-scale cancellations last year. 

Since then, the president has been working on memos with the Department of Education and the Justice Department about his legal authority to cancel the debt or implement a partial forgiveness program. However, these memos have yet to be shared with the Democratic leaders, who are asking for the report, or the general public. In a letter to the White House, led by Sen. Warren, Sen. Schumer, Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D. Mass), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and backed by 85 House and Senate Democrats, Biden was asked to release the memos immediately. 

“Publicly releasing memos outlining your existing authority on canceling student debt and broadly doing so is crucial in making a meaningful difference in the lives of current students, borrowers, and their families. It has been widely reported that the Department of Education has had this memo since April 2021, after being directed to draft it,” reads the letter.

 Statements have also been made by individual progressive leaders, with the most recent being Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. In an interview with the New Yorker, AOC called out the hesitancy of the current administration, stating “this really isn’t a conversation about providing relief to a small niche group of people. It’s very much a keystone action politically. I think it’s a keystone action economically.” 

With the midterm elections quickly approaching, many progressive leaders are also emphasizing the political and economic implications of delivering on this major platform promise. However, despite the increased pressure from Democratic leaders, the Biden administration has still not released information regarding the reports. In addition, when asked about the cancellation of student debt in a January press conference, Biden did not provide any concrete answers, but rather reiterated that the issue remains a priority that is being continuously researched. 

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona also reiterated the efforts of the president and his team, stating, “the administration is continuing to have conversations about broader loan forgiveness even as it touts the debt it has canceled by expanding or improving existing programs, such as those for public service workers or student borrowers who have become severely disabled.”

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