5 ways Biden's Education Department has 'wildly overstepped its authority' with student-loan relief, according to a top Republican lawmaker

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden addresses the nation at the White House in Washington, DC on June 24, 2022.Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx blasted the Education Department for "overstepping its authority" with student-loan relief.

  • She cited the payment pauses, loan forgiveness waivers, and looming forgiveness as examples.

  • Democrats have argued the authority is there under the Higher Education Act to cancel student debt.

A leading Republican lawmaker wants America to know she's not happy with President Joe Biden's student-loan relief actions and proposals.

Last week, top Republican on the House education committee Virginia Foxx wrote a letter to her "fellow Americans," intended to lay out the "true harm" of Biden's already-implemented policies and upcoming proposals on student debt.

She said the policies, like a potential upcoming announcement from Biden on broad-student loan forgiveness, is emblematic of Democrats' attempts to force "de facto free college through the student loan program" at the cost of taxpayers, while failing to permanently fix higher education costs.

"All of these policies were crafted behind closed doors, without providing the public any information about when the Department would implement them, who would be impacted, or how much they would cost," Foxx wrote.

"Obfuscation about the details has allowed the Department to tout alleged benefits without facing any scrutiny over what the implications of these radical changes," she added. "However, the facts—which this administration has tried to push under the rug—prove these plans are nothing more than an attempt to skirt the law and enact policies that would never pass Congress."

Here are the five ways Foxx believes the Education Department has "wildly overstepped" its authority when it comes to the student-loan program:

  1. Extending the payment pause

  2. Implementing temporary waivers for student-loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  3. Planning to restore defaulted borrowers to good standing before payments resume

  4. Proposing new regulations to the student-loan industry, with an estimated cost of $85 billion

  5. And Biden's potential broad student-loan forgiveness of $10,000 per federal borrower.

The Education Department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Biden has extended the student-loan payment pause four times during his time in office, and Foxx wrote that the extensions are equivalent of a "stimulus" payment, leaving money in borrowers' pockets that they would have had to pay pre-pandemic. As Insider reported, it's looking likely that another extension of the payment pause is on the horizon following news that the Education Department is directing student-loan companies to halt outreach surrounding the upcoming payment resumption after August 31.

On top of that, Biden is nearing a decision on broad student-loan forgiveness — an announcement he said he will make before August 31. He is reportedly considering $10,000 in relief for borrowers making under $150,000 a year.

Foxx has been one of the most vocal critics of Biden's student-loan relief, saying in the past that the president "operates as if he can issue any decree he wants on student loan forgiveness." But Democratic lawmakers have argued he is using the proper authority under the Higher Education Act to carry out the already-implemented relief — and it's the same authority that he can use to cancel student debt broadly.

"Look, we know that the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt and the best way we know that is because President Obama did it, President Trump did it, and President Biden has now done it repeatedly," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in April, referring to targeted loan forgiveness programs and the repeated payment pause extensions. "The power is clearly there."

Biden's administration isn't so confident. Redacted documents last year revealed that a memo examining the president's authority to cancel student debt broadly existed and had been circulated within the White House, but the conclusion of the memo has yet to be made public. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal also said during a recent interview that the department is still "examining whether we might have the authority to [cancel $10,000 in student debt] even without an act of Congress."

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