“the president has the power to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt right now“
Ayelet Sheffrey Aug 11, 2021, 11:28 AM
Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Brendan McDermid/Reuters
In June, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was responsible for holding up the confirmation of a top Education Department nominee to push for reforms to student debt. Last week, she lifted her hold, citing his commitment to reform.
A source familiar with the matter told Insider in June that Warren was stalling James Kvaal's nomination to under secretary of education because she wanted to ensure better administration of student-loan programs. But the Senate's first move when it returns from recess in September will be confirming Kvaal to the position he was nominated for in February, thanks to what Warren has called "productive conversations" with Kvaal, the Education Department, and the White House.
Warren said in a statement that she's "glad they have committed to making substantial reforms to the administration of the student loan program."
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote a letter, obtained by Insider, to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Warren, thanking them for their leadership on student debt reform and accountability in higher education. He added that the department's work so far, from extending the student-loan payment pause to forgiving student debt for some borrowers, "is far from done."
"In the coming months we will continue our crucial work around servicing and debt collection, improving targeted debt relief, and strengthening oversight and enforcement of institutions and of accreditation agencies," Cardona wrote. Warren and Schumer have been leaders on the issue of student-debt reform in Congress. Warren, in particular, has been working to hold student-loan companies accountable for misleading borrowers for over a decade, most recently telling Insider in an interview that "the days are over" when those companies could do a "terrible job." The pair has also been pushing for President Joe Biden to not only remedy the $1.7 trillion student-debt crisis, but cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower. Biden has asked the Education and Justice Departments to review his legal ability to do so, but there is no word yet on where those reviews stand, and Democrats remain adamant that the president can get the job done by simply signing an executive order.
"The president has the power to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt right now," Warren told Insider. "Senator Schumer and I are going to continue to push for this, but Biden doesn't need any authorization from Congress. He needs to pick up the pen and do it himself."