North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, a ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a statement on May 18 announcing the introduction of the Student Loan Accountability Act. The bill would prohibit the Biden administration from forgiving student loan debt.
Burr was joined by fellow N.C. Senator Thom Tillis, as well as Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-L.A.).
The bill works by preventing the Department of Education, Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury from canceling or forgiving outstanding balances or portions of balances of covered loans. Existing federal student loan forgiveness, cancellation or repayment programs that fall under the Higher Education Act would be exempt from this bill.
This move is in response to Biden’s earlier comments that he is “taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness.” During his run for office, Biden had campaigned on canceling at least $10,000 in student debt per borrower.
“Working Americans are struggling to afford essentials like gas and groceries under the worst inflation in 40 years, but that won’t stop the Biden Administration from pushing more inflationary policies that primarily benefit the highest earner,” Burr wrote in the statement. “Taxpayers who did not attend higher education or paid off their student loans responsibly should not be footing the bill for those who didn’t. Not only is that patently unfair, it doesn’t solve the root problem.”
Proponents of canceling student loan debt point to the positive economic and social effects. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy, canceling student loan debt would advance gender and racial equity, create up to 1.5 million new jobs and have significant intergenerational anti-poverty effects.
Opponents of canceling student loan debt highlight potentially harmful economic effects. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, canceling student loan debt would increase the inflation rate by 4% to 20%. Additionally, a study by the Brookings Institution suggests that across-the-board student loan forgiveness is regressive and would worsen inequality.
As of now, student loan repayments have been paused through August 31. The Biden administration extended the repayment freeze deadline, which was previously scheduled on May 1. Repayments have been paused since March 2020, a move meant to provide economic relief to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.