President Joe Biden has vetoed a bill that would have blocked an administration plan to provide nationwide student debt relief.
The program, which was one of candidate Biden's central campaign promises, tasked the Department of Education with running a program to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt per individual for most applicants, and up to $20,000 for certain Pell Grant recipients. Most of the funds were expected to go to households earning less than $75,000 annually, and none of the funds would have been available for those in the top 5% of U.S. income distribution.
The Biden Administration says 26 million borrowers signed up for relief.
The administration says the Department of Education has taken steps like this in cases of national emergency before, and objected to Congress stopping its progress.
Congress passed the measure using the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law which allows it to nullify rules set by federal agencies — in this case, the Department of Education. Passing a measure under the act requires simple majorities in both houses of Congress, compared to the two-thirds majorities needed for Congress to override a presidential veto.
If student loan repayment goes forward following this Congressional measure, it would undo the latest pause on repayments that the Executive Branch enacted in November 2022, retroactively make months of student loan interest come due and eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which waives loans for teachers, first responders and other public workers after a certain duration of service.
President Biden's veto sets up the potential of a congressional override, but the fate of student loan forgiveness may ultimately rest with the Supreme Court, which put the forgiveness plan on hold while it considers two related cases. A decision could come sometime this month.
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