Several top Democrats break with Biden and push back on his reluctance to cancel $50,000 in student-loan debt

  • Several key Democrats pushed back against Biden’s reluctance to cancel $50,000 in student-loan debt per person.
  • Warren, Schumer, and AOC called on Democrats to continue pressing the White House to take immediate action.
  • “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” Schumer and Warren said.
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Several top Democrats pushed back on Wednesday against President Joe Biden’s dismissal on Tuesday night of their proposal to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt.

Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released a joint statement defending their plan, and said student-loan forgiveness was a step that both of Biden’s predecessors in the White House had taken in the past. 

The pair expressed confidence that the president had the authority to act unilaterally, and argued their proposal would help narrow the racial wealth gap and stimulate the economy. “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” Schumer and Warren said.

Other Democrats criticized Biden and doubled down on their support for major student debt relief. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a sponsor of the plan, tweeted that Biden did have the authority to act on his own. “He can and must use it,” she said. “The people deserve nothing less.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted that Democrats should “keep pushing.”

“Who cares what school someone went to?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong. Nowhere does it say we must trade-off early childhood education for student loan forgiveness. We can have both.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks appeared to refer to comments Biden made in the town hall, questioning the fairness of forgiving “billions of dollars of debt, for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn.”

‘I will not make that happen’

At the town hall, when asked about the proposed relief measure, Biden responded, “I will not make that happen.”

Instead, the president said he was willing to forgive up to $10,000 in student-loan debt and touted other measures to provide tuition-free community college and allowing families earning $125,000 or less to send their kids to state universities for free.

Biden brought up the six-figure college debt load of his three children, and said they gradually paid it off over time.

“I don’t think anybody should have to pay for that, but I do think you should be able to work it off,” he said. “I understand the impact of the debt.” 

Last year, House Democrats included $10,000 of student-debt forgiveness in a pandemic relief proposal. But that measure was omitted from the $1.9 trillion federal rescue package that’s now making its way through Congress.

The Biden administration said it’s reviewing legal options to determine whether it can take action to forgive debt unilaterally. Biden extended a pause on student loan payments through Sept. 30 shortly after taking office and waived interest.

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