The Democrat-controlled Senate has voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s plan to wipe the student debts of college-educated voters.
The move rebukes Biden’s efforts to bypass Congress to cancel the debt of certain student loan recipients.
The chamber passed the joint resolution of disapproval in a 52–46 vote.
The measure passed with the help of Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate, Manchin warned that the plan would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt.
“Today, I voted to repeal the Biden Administration’s student loan cancellation proposal because we simply cannot afford to add another $400 billion to the national debt,” Manchin said in a statement.
“There are already more than 50 existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs aimed at attracting individuals to vital service jobs, such as teachers, health care workers, and public servants,” he noted.
“This Biden proposal undermines these programs and forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost.
“Instead, we should be focusing on bipartisan student debt reforms that reduce the cost of higher education and help all Americans.”
In addition to offering to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for roughly 40 million borrowers, Biden’s program initially sought to extend a national pause on the collection of student loan payments and interest.
Since then, the plan has been challenged in court, however.
In November 2022, the Biden administration announced that the payment freeze wouldn’t be extended again.
In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will rule on two challenges relating to the debt relief plan.
If the litigation isn’t resolved by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after June 30.
Otherwise, payments will resume 60 days after the court hands down its decision.
According to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, the court cases challenging the plan are “callous,” “baseless,” and “just plain wrong.”
“I want borrowers to know that the Biden-Harris Administration has their backs and we’re as committed as ever to fighting to deliver essential student debt relief to tens of millions of Americans,” Cardona said in a Nov. 22, 2022, statement.
In March, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed skeptical that Biden had the authority to implement such a sweeping change without congressional approval.
“We take very seriously the idea of separation of powers and that power should be divided to prevent its abuse, and there are many procedural niceties that have to be followed for the same purpose,” Roberts said during oral arguments in one of the two cases the court is reviewing.
“I think most casual observers would say, if you’re going to give up that much amount of money, if you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on.
“And if Congress hasn’t acted on it, then maybe that’s a good lesson to say, for the President or the administrative bureaucracy, that maybe that’s not something they should undertake on their own.”
But regardless of how the court rules, the administration appeared to confirm its resolve to resume collecting student loan payments earlier this week.
As part of the debt limit deal forged by Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the White House agreed to a provision that would require a permanent end to the freeze.