House Republicans successfully, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene acting as speaker pro tempore, passed a bill Wednesday to repeal President Joe Biden’s cancellation of student loan debt.
The bill passed with a 218-203 vote, with two Democrats — Reps. Jared Golden and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez — voting with Republicans.
According to PBS News, the bill cancels the president’s student loan debt forgiveness program by using the Congressional Review Act, “which allows Congress to undo recently enacted executive branch regulations.”
The vote Wednesday came after a contentious debate that was moderated by Greene, who at one point was laughed at by Democrats for demanding decorum:
Wow Democrats just laughed at Marjorie Taylor Greene when she asked them to abide by decorum of the House pic.twitter.com/2jrLFyAEWg
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 24, 2023
“At a time when students need relief the most, Republicans are working to upend student loan forgiveness that started under Trump and now continues under President Biden for more than 40 million borrowers,” Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat, said during the debate, as reported by Fox News.
“Why for the love of God do Republicans want to continue to punch down on America’s students and divide our country? The Biden administration’s student debt relief plan is not a bailout, it is a lifeline, and I implore my Republican colleagues in Congress to speak with borrowers in their own districts about this very issue,” he added.
Another Democrat, Rep. Maxwell Frost, “argued that Republican opposition to Biden’s plan was based on the argument that most Americans don’t need loan repayment aid, and said by that logic, women and Black people would never have been allowed to vote,” according to Fox News.
Republicans meanwhile argued that the president simply lacks the legal authority to unilaterally eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars of student debt.
“In fact, he even admitted that to CNN host Anderson Cooper in February 2021 by saying, ‘I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing with a pen,’” Rep. Bob Good, a Republican, reportedly said.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, also a Republican, added that the president’s plan does nothing more than help the wealthy.
“Student loan cancelation is regressive. Two-thirds of this debt transfer plan would go to the top half of earners. It takes from those in the lower half and gives to the upper half. This is a professional class bailout. More specifically, it is a professional class, graduate degree-holder bailout,” she said.
Even the left-wing Brookings Institution has admitted this is true:
The bill now moves to the Senate, where it’ll need a simple majority vote to make it all the way to the White House. Senate Republicans are guaranteed a favorable vote from Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, who railed against the student loan forgiveness plan last September.
“I just thought that it was excessive,” he said at the time, adding that he would have resolved the issue differently.
“When people were calling me from back in West Virginia, I would give them all the options they had that would reduce their loan by going to work in the federal government. You have to earn it,” he said.
Republicans may also be able to secure support from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
“I disagree with President Biden’s executive action on student loans because it doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable,” she told CNN in March.
There’s also a chance Sen. Kyrsten Sinema may side with Republicans.
The problem is that the White House has already promised to veto the bill and, at the moment, Republicans lack the votes to override the president’s veto.
President Biden would veto my CRA to overturn his unlawful and patently unfair student loan transfer scheme. He would rather pile hundreds of billions of dollars more in debt on American taxpayers than pursue a path of fiscal responsibility.https://t.co/JNkreVDNYj
— Congressman Bob Good (@RepBobGood) May 22, 2023
“This resolution is an unprecedented attempt to undercut our historic economic recovery and would deprive more than 40 million hard-working Americans of much-needed student debt relief. If enacted, H.J. Res. 45 would weaken America’s middle class. Nearly 90 percent of the relief provided by the Department of Education would go to Americans earning less than $75,000 per year, and no relief would go to any individual or household in the top 5 percent of incomes,” the White House said in a statement published Monday.
“Americans should be able to have a little more breathing room as they recover from the economic strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Education’s action is based on decades-old authority granted by Congress. That authority has been used by multiple administrations over the last two decades following the same procedures to protect borrowers from the effects of national emergencies and has never been subject to the Congressional Review Act. The Department’s action here should be treated no differently.”
The statement ended with the White House vowing that the president will veto the GOP bill.
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