WASHINGTON (The Hill) – White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested on Tuesday that President Biden could extend the pandemic freeze on student loan payments and accrued interest.
In a White House briefing Tuesday, Psaki told reporters that Biden has yet to decide whether he will allow millions of Americans to forgo student loan repayments at no extra cost beyond January 31.
Biden extended in August an order originally issued by former President Trump in March 2020 to suspend owed payments and interest on student loans held by the federal government until the end of next month. The administration said it would likely be the last extension of the order, and Psaki all but ruled out another extension at a press conference two weeks ago.
“We are still evaluating the impact of the omicron variant, but a smooth transition to reimbursement is a high priority for the administration,” Psaki said on December 10.
Even so, Biden faced intense pressure from progressives not only to extend this hiatus, but also to write off a significant portion of student debt held by the federal government. Democratic lawmakers have warned Biden not to start collecting debt payments as the economy braces for another potential pandemic hit amid an otherwise strong recovery.
“Resuming student loan debt payments would cost our economy over $ 85 billion next year. We are still in a pandemic and people are still struggling. @POTUS should not restart payments and should use its authority for #CancelStudentDebt, ”Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), A leading advocate for student loan cancellation, wrote in a tweet from Tuesday.
About 44 million Americans owe the federal government a total of $ 1.6 trillion in student loans. Lawmakers and progressive activists have urged Biden to forgive up to $ 50,000 per borrower through executive action, insisting the president has the legal authority to do so without congressional approval.
Biden has asked administration officials to review his legal authority to write off student debt by executive order and said he would sign a bill passed to write off up to $ 10,000 per borrower. Even so, Congress is highly unlikely to pass a debt cancellation bill with nearly all Republicans and a notable contingent of Democrats – including President Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – opposed to it. a forgiveness of the debt.