Biden must release an almost year-old student-debt memo and 'immediately' cancel up to $50,000 in loans before payments resume, Elizabeth Warren, AOC, and 83 other Democrats say

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Chuck Schumer cancel student debt
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (center) speaking at a press conference about student debt outside the Capitol on February 4 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Democratic lawmakers called on Biden to release a memo on his legal ability to cancel student debt.

  • They urged him to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower before payments resume on May 1.

  • Redacted documents found Biden has had the memo since at least April but chose not to release it.

It's been eight months since White House officials saw a memo detailing whether President Joe Biden can legally cancel student debt broadly. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers are tired of waiting for its results.

On Wednesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer, along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Katie Porter, led 79 of their Democratic colleagues in demanding Biden release the memo outlining his legal ability to cancel federal student debt broadly, along with "immediately" canceling up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower.

"Publicly releasing the memo outlining your existing authority on cancelling student debt and broadly doing so is crucial to making a meaningful difference in the lives of current students, borrowers, and families," the lawmakers wrote. "It has been widely reported that the Department of Education has had this memo since April 5, 2020 after being directed to draft it."

White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Politico last April that Biden had asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to create a memo on the president's legal authority to forgive $50,000 in student loans per person. As Insider reported in November, redacted documents obtained by the Debt Collective, the nation's first debtors' union, indicated that the memo has existed since April 5, and White House officials have seen what is says but have yet to make its contents public.

Even before those documents were revealed, though, Democrats were calling for the release of the memo to give 43 million federal student-loan borrowers needed relief. In October, Minnesota Rep. Omar gave the Education Department two weeks to release it, but that deadline came and went with no response.

"Millions of borrowers across the country are desperately asking for student debt relief," Omar had told Insider. "We know the President can do it with the stroke of a pen. We were told over six months ago that they were just waiting on a memo to determine whether they would give relief, and weeks since we sent a letter asking them to do so. Release the memo. Cancel student debt."

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said during a roundtable on Wednesday that "it would be good to be publicly known" whether Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt.

"I have not read the memo, but it is my view that the memo should ultimately certify that the president has the authority to do exactly what we're advocating for," Menendez said.

And beyond the release of the memo, the push for broad student-loan forgiveness continues to amplify. As Warren previously told Insider, her proposal to cancel $50,000 in student loans per borrower would completely eliminate debt for 36 million, or 84%, of all federal borrowers.

"This is the single most effective executive action President Biden could take to jumpstart our economy and begin to narrow the racial wealth gap," she said.

While Biden promised during his campaign to approve $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness per borrower, he has remained largely silent on that promise since taking office. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently said Biden would sign a bill passed by Congress to cancel student debt, but his promise to do so "immediately" remains unfulfilled. He even ignored a question on that promise during his first solo press conference of the year.

Still, while Biden extended the pause on student-loan payments through May 1, giving borrowers an additional 90 days of relief, lawmakers want to ensure millions of Americans will not be stuck with monthly bills they cannot afford.

They wrote that "eliminating debt before the pause ends is a commonsense step so that millions of borrowers have more breathing room in their family budgets and our national economy is not further held back."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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