Senate Republicans have announced legislation to prevent Joe Biden’s plan for one-time forgiveness of up to $20,000 per borrower.
The proposed legislation comes on the heels of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determining that Biden’s loan forgiveness plan could face expedited review in Congress.
The effort to overturn loan cancellation is noteworthy but unlikely to impact whether or not borrowers receive the planned forgiveness.
The Senate Resolution to Cancel Biden’s One-Time Forgiveness Program
A recent GAO ruling means that the one-time forgiveness plan falls within the authority of the Congressional Review Act. This law allows for an expedited Congressional review of actions taken by the President.
Most notably, this review process allows Congress to roll back presidential actions without the threat of a Senate filibuster.
What does this complicated legal process mean for borrowers?
It means there could be a vote in the coming days that would overturn Biden’s debt cancellation plans.
The Troubling News for Borrowers
The scary part of the Republican effort is its great chance of passing.
Without the threat of a filibuster, Republicans need a simple majority in both the House and the Senate.
Republicans already have a slim majority in the House, and several moderate Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin and Catherine Cortez Masto, have been critical of Biden’s loan cancellation plan.
There is a real chance that a majority in the House and the Senate will vote to overturn the plan for up to $20,000 of loan forgiveness per borrower.
The Safety Net for Borrowers
Crucially, even if the Republican plan gets a majority in Congress, Biden can veto it.
In other words, it doesn’t stop the loan forgiveness plan even if it passes.
What about the Supreme Court Case? The one-time forgiveness plan is also under review before the Supreme Court. The actions taken by Congress shouldn’t impact how Congress rules on the case.
However, the Supreme Court can decide without the risk of a Presidential veto, which means the Supreme Court case remains the primary threat to borrowers’ hopes of loan cancellation.
The Republican Goal
If Biden can easily veto the effort to stop loan forgiveness, what is the point of proposing the legislation?
Like just about everything else in Congress, it is about politics.
Republicans can use a veto to claim that Biden is out of touch with everyday Americans who don’t want loan forgiveness.
More significantly, forcing a vote can put some Democratic Senators in difficult positions. Voting for forgiveness might upset some independent voters. Voting against forgiveness will surely upset student loan borrowers.