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Black Caucus Ups Pressure on Biden to Cancel Student Debt

By Jarrell Dillard

The Congressional Black Caucus is requesting a meeting with President Joe Biden to press the case that cancelling student-loan debt is a racial equality issue.

“This is a crisis created through policy decisions, and we have a responsibility to address it head-on,” Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty said in a statement Friday. “Canceling student loan debt is one of the most impactful ways to address ongoing economic and racial inequities plaguing our nation.”

Representative Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio,speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Ketanji Brown Jackson, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, yesterday said she would recuse from a pending case over affirmative action at Harvard University, where she serves on the board of overseers.

The caucus is the latest group of Democratic lawmakers seeking to put pressure on the president to use his executive authority to forgive at least some student loan debt ahead of the midterm elections.

Progressive lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley, have pushed Biden to cancel at least $50,000 in student loan debt per person. That figure is also supported by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Raphael Warnock.

Schumer, Warren and Warnock met with Biden Wednesday to urge him to go big on loan forgiveness.

Biden has said he would not go as high as $50,000, but signaled he is considering forgiving at least $10,000 per borrower. One scenario suggested by the White House would limit loan forgiveness to individuals who make less than $125,000 a year. But Biden has been deliberating for months on the issue, and any legislative action is unlikely.

Beatty called on Biden to implement “broad-based” cancellation to reduce the racial wealth gap and provide an equitable economic recovery for all Americans. She said the group is committed to exploring all options for dealing with loan debt with the administration.

About 43 million people in the US hold federal student loans, and Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt compared to White college graduates, according to the Education Data Initiative. Black borrowers also are more likely to struggle financially due to student loan debt.

“For too long, this crisis has disproportionately impacted our families and communities, particularly Black women who carry the most student debt due to discriminatory policies that systematically denied generational wealth building,” Pressley said in a statement Friday. 

Republicans have attacked Biden’s consideration of loan forgiveness and introduced legislation that would prevent him from doing so. GOP lawmakers claim debt forgiveness would add to inflation and be unfair to some Americans.

“If the Administration decides to cancel nearly $2 trillion in student loan debt, it would be wholly unfair to those who already repaid their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths,” Republican Senator Mitt Romney tweeted Wednesday.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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