Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will join Republicans in voting on a bill to overturn President Joe Biden’s student-debt relief plan.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to advance a GOP-led bill that would overturn Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers, along with immediately ending the payment pause. Three Democratic lawmakers — Kyrsten Sinema, John Tester, and Manchin — joined Republicans in advancing the legislation that is headed to a full Senate vote on Thursday.
Following the procedural vote, Manchin released a statement of support for “overturning reckless student loan plan.”
“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 the 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 continued. “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.”
The legislation was first introduced in March using the Congressional Review Act, which is a fast-track tool Congress can use to overturn final rules put in place by federal agencies. Some Democrats and advocates have previously said that given the language of the CRA statute, ending the payment pause would have a retroactive effect, meaning payments made during the pause would be reinstated.
It’s unclear if other Democrats will end up joining Manchin for the final vote. But some Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have bashed the bill and urged their colleagues to oppose it.
“Republicans have tried to sell this CRA as their attempt to block President Biden from canceling up to $20,000 of student debt for working families that need it most – nothing more,” Warren said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “But make no mistake: voting for this CRA isn’t just a vote against the President’s student debt cancellation plan. It’s also a vote to force nearly 40 million hardworking Americans to immediately pay back months of student loan payments and interest and restore an estimated $20 billion of student debt to the balances of tens of thousands of public servants.”
And Schumer wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that “Senate Republicans talk a big game about helping working families. But their legislation to deny millions of student loan borrowers the critical relief they need shows how callous and uncaring they are.”
—Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 31, 2023
Still, Republicans are continuing to urge their colleagues to support the legislation to block student-loan forgiveness. Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the sponsors of the bill, wrote on Twitter that “Biden’s so-called student debt “forgiveness plan” doesn’t actually forgive or cancel the debt. Instead, it transfers the burden from those who WILLINGLY chose to take out debt to attend college to those who chose not to go to college or already paid off their loans. It’s unfair!”
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