Deeper In Debt: Biden Seeks To Continue Student Debt Freeze

Written By BlabberBuzz | Saturday, 26 March 2022 08:30
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Democrats in Congress are urging the Biden Administration to prolong the suspension of student loan payments before it’s expected to expire May 1 as they seek to sidestep cutting off a pandemic-induced benefit in the middle of an election year.

The federal student loan payments suspension has been prolonged five times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic since it began under former President Trump in March 2020.

That means millions of people who owe student debt to the federal government haven’t been required to make payments on their debt in two years, while interest rates on those loans have been set to zero.

However, President Biden has yet to say whether he’ll restore it after last extending it in December amid surging cases of COVID-19.

The pause on federal student loan payments has had more staying power than other popular federal aid programs meant to help people stay afloat during the pandemic.

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In comparison, the ban on evictions, improved unemployment benefits, and expanded child tax credit have all lapsed over the past year.

As long as millions of people have acclimated to funds that don’t include monthly student loan payments, the harder it will be for Democrats to reinstate them.

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Dozens of Democrats are calling for an extension that lasts at least through the end of this year.

“Millions of borrowers have benefitted from the pause in payments. Although progress has been made, we believe it is vital to ensure that we continue to work to alleviate the continued impact the pandemic is having on families across the country,” a group of more than 40 House Democrats ranging from progressives to lawmakers in competitive districts wrote in a letter to Biden this week.

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They cautioned that ending the pause on student loan payments this spring would come when Americans’ cost of living has already been going up due to the recent spike in inflation.

“Unemployment remains higher than two years ago, and families are experiencing significant price increases on household goods, food, and energy,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote.

The letter’s signatories included Reps. Conor Lamb (Pa.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio), who are running for the Senate, and Progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

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Though some of Biden’s allies are pressing him not to stop there.

Many Progressives — and even some top Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) — are urging Biden to cancel student loan debt altogether.

“Without action, student loan payments will resume on May 1. President Biden can act now by using his existing legal authority to #CancelStudentDebt,” Schumer tweeted on Tuesday.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) similarly called for extending the freeze until at least next year while using that time to reform the student loan system.

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