WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, spoke on the U.S. Senate floor ahead of the passage of a procedural vote on his Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn President Biden’s student debt transfer scheme and the loan repayment pause. Biden’s student loan schemes are estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $600 billion. The procedural motion to begin consideration of the resolution passed by a vote of 51 to 46 with the Senate vote on final passage expected as early as this week.
“Make no mistake, these reckless student loan schemes do not ‘forgive’ debt. They transfer 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 already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans,” said Dr. Cassidy. “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.”
“Our resolution prevents average Americans, 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,” continued Dr. Cassidy.
On March 27th, Cassidy was joined by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and 36 Republican colleagues in introducing a CRA resolution to overturn student debt cancelation, which would transfer up to $20,000 in student loan debt per borrower onto taxpayers, costing an estimated $400 billion. The CRA would also end the pause on student loan payments, which costs taxpayers $5 billion a month and has been extended six times under the Biden administration, far beyond the original pandemic justification. The pause will have cost Americans a total of $195 billion by the time the most recent Biden extension is set to expire in August of 2023.
Click here to watch Cassidy’s full speech.
Cassidy’s speech as prepared for delivery can be found below:
The Senate will soon vote on the Congressional Review Act, Resolution of Disapproval to overturn the Biden administration’s unfair student loan schemes. These schemes transfer the burden of $400 billion in federal student loans from those who willingly took on that debt, to American taxpayers who 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.
Make no mistake, these reckless student loan schemes do not “forgive” debt. They transfer 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 already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans.
These policies are as unfair as they are irresponsible. 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.
President Biden’s 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 percent. At public four-year institutions, they’ve jumped by 124 percent.
According to Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, if the student loan transfer goes into effect, students and taxpayers will be back in the exact same position in just FIVE YEARS. Total debt will again reach $1.7 trillion. What’s the plan for five years from now?
And this scheme doesn’t ensure students are prepared for life after college. It creates a terrible moral hazard that signals to students that federal student loans aren’t real commitments. It tells colleges that no matter how high they raise their prices or the quality of education they provide, the federal government will cover the tab, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
There is no leadership here. We cannot spend our way out of the problem of the ever-increasing costs of higher education.
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.
They range from total forgiveness for teachers; to loan 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, a variety of different health care providers, including therapists and behavioral 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 five different programs that keep payments low compared to a person’s 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.
Our resolution prevents average Americans, 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.
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 voting to pass this Congressional Review Act resolution to prevent these unconstitutional student debt forgiveness schemes. 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.