Almost all Republicans in the House of Representatives already voted last month to block Biden’s student debt relief as part of a comprehensive package of policy proposals in the GOP bill to raise the debt ceiling.
But this would be the first time an effort to undermine Biden’s loan forgiveness program, which offers up to $20,000 in debt relief to millions of borrowers, would get a House vote as a stand-alone measure. That will gauge the strength of Democratic support for the policy in Congress, particularly among some moderates who have been cool to the idea of canceling student debt, even though it has been championed by the party’s progressive wing.
Wednesday’s vote is the latest effort in a multi-pronged attack by Republicans on Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, which they say is too expensive for taxpayers, unfair to Americans who did not attend college and an illegal abuse of the executive authority.
The Supreme Court is weighing a decision in two legal challenges to the plan brought by GOP attorneys general and a conservative group. The judges are expected to rule on the case next month.
House Republicans plan to question two top Education Department officials about the cost of Biden’s student loan policies during a hearing also scheduled for Wednesday. James Kvaal, the education secretary, and Rich Cordray, the head of Federal Student Aid, must testify for the Higher Education Committee of the House.
GOP lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act to repeal Biden’s debt relief policies. The tool allows Congress to quickly block recent executive branch policies using fast-track procedures.
House Republicans approved the measure in committee earlier this month in a partisan vote.
After the House votes on it this week, Republicans will be able to force a vote on the resolution in the Senate. But it’s not yet clear whether they have the votes to pass it in that chamber, and the timing of a vote is also up in the air. The Senate is not in session this week, although it may return to vote on a debt ceiling deal.
All Senate Republicans except Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has signed onto the bill, while some moderate Democrats has been non-binding whether they would vote to defend Biden’s student debt plan, even though they have criticized the policy in the past.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that repealing Biden’s debt relief plan would reduce the deficit by about $320 billion over the next decade, as a result of “future repayments of principal and interest on student loans.”
The White House on Monday reiterated the Biden administration’s view that the student loan relief program should not be subject to the Congressional Review Act because it was an exercise of an emergency authority under the HEROES Act, a 2003 law that gives the Education Department the power to waive or modify student loan policies in response to national emergencies.
The Government Accountability Office, which is responsible for issuing rulings on when agency policies constitute a rule, rejected that argument earlier this year, opening the Congressional Review Act path for Republican lawmakers to block the policy.