Providing for Congressional Disapproval of the Rule Submitted By the Department of Education Relating to ``Waivers and Modifications of Federal Student Loans''

Floor Speech

Date: May 24, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JAYAPAL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this cruel resolution that will force low- and middle-income student loan borrowers to face severe financial hardship.

In a reckless reversal of the payment pause, this measure sends an average of $1,000 in surprise student loan bills to over 40 million Americans. This absurd approach to block President Biden's student debt relief plan hurts those who are most at risk.

Older Americans owe a fifth of all student debt. Their debt has increased fivefold in the last 20 years. Black Americans owe an average of $44,800 in student debt. Over 6 million Americans living in rural areas owe an average of $35,000. Reversals to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness would put 260,000 public servants and 46,000 servicemembers back under the thumb of these crushing payments.

Those who receive that Public Service Loan Forgiveness have played by the rules for years and sacrificed too much to have partisan efforts steal relief that they were already given and counting on.

Our job is to protect working people, and that should mean ensuring that no one goes into unpayable debt just to get a degree to pursue their dreams. This Republican plan would increase the likelihood of defaulting for teachers, for law enforcement, for public servants across the board, and it would be a drop in the bucket toward actually addressing the deficit.

Yet Republicans took $1.9 trillion from taxpayers and handed it to corporations in tax cuts, and dozens of them have absolutely no qualms in pocketing over $22 million in PPP forgiveness just in this body across the aisle.

Congress should be prioritizing aid to seniors and borrowers from working families, not the wealthy. Vote ``no'' on this extreme, unworkable, and cruel resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a letter signed by over 260 organizations, including labor, civil rights, and consumer protection groups calling on Congress to reject this harmful resolution. May 8, 2023. Hon. Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. Hon. Kevin McCarthy, Speaker, House of Representatives, Washington, DC. Hon. Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC. Hon. Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Leader, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, and Minority Leader Jeffries: The undersigned 261 organizations representing millions of students, workers, people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, consumers, and people of faith write in strong opposition to bicameral efforts to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn President Biden's actions to pause student loan payments and provide student debt relief for low-income and working-class Americans continuing to recover from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating economic fallout.

In March, policymakers in the House and Senate unveiled a CRA resolution to retroactively overturn the pause of federal student loan payments and interest accrual, and President Biden's debt relief plan. If successful, these CRA efforts would immediately force tens of millions of borrowers into abrupt and unplanned repayment with devastating effects, including adding thousands of dollars of payments and interest onto their loan balances. It will also force the Department of Education to unwind loans forgiven under Public Service Loan Forgiveness for first responders, nurses, educators, servicemembers, and hundreds of thousands of other public service workers across the country. These actions are a clear attack on millions of the most vulnerable workers and families who are still reeling from the devastating impact of COVID-19.

The President's student debt relief program and extension of the pause on student loan payments are both plainly legal and desperately needed by the more than 43 million borrowers drowning in nearly $1.76 trillion in student loan debt. While they await the Supreme Court's decision regarding the fate of debt relief, tens of millions of borrowers and their families are relying on the federal student loan payment pause as they continue to face the economic aftershocks of the pandemic, including high inflation. Data show that the payment pause has been of greatest help to student loan borrowers who were in financial distress even before the pandemic and has successfully provided relief for those borrowers more than other COVID-19 assistance programs. The payment pause is broadly supported among individuals with and without student loan debt and has been recognized as necessary by the Trump and Biden Administrations alike. Further, the U.S. Secretary of Education's use of the HEROES Act of 2003 to pause student loan repayment falls within a long line of waiver and modification authority exercised by prior administrations without the invocation of the CRA, including by his immediate predecessor for precisely the same purpose.

Overturning the payment pause and forcing borrowers into immediate repayment would have a devastating effect on borrowers in every community. U.S. Department of Education (ED) analysis demonstrates that a resumption of loan payments without cancellation will spike delinquency and default rates for the most financially vulnerable. Further, more than 26 million Americans applied for student debt cancellation in the few weeks before it was shut down by partisan attacks in the federal courts. This extraordinary engagement with President Biden's cancellation plan is further evidence of both the crushing burden this debt places on workers and families from all walks of life and the promise of hope debt cancellation offers for millions seeking an economic fresh start.

Recent polling illustrates that cancellation enjoys broad popular support, underscoring the massive impact of student debt across families, communities, and entire generations of Americans, and the reasons for the program's popularity are clear. Cancellation will also benefit many Americans who have suffered the most throughout the pandemic--with 90% of relief dollars going to borrowers earning below $75,000 a year. These are student loan borrowers who are low- and middle- income, borrowers with disabilities, public servants who face high educational costs and low wages, women and Black and Latino/a borrowers who come from low-wealth families unable to foot the bill for higher education upfront, and many more. Cancellation will help prevent a wave of defaults and delinquencies when repayment resumes and ensure that these borrowers will be able to afford basics like food, housing, and other necessities that pandemic-related financial hardship would otherwise put out of reach.

The American people, the law, and the economic instability of the present moment all emphasize the necessity of debt cancellation and the continuation of the payment pause until cancellation is realized. Policymakers now seeking to reverse such critical relief through the CRA are ignoring the economic needs of their own constituents and threatening our nation's financial security. Congress should be acting to improve the circumstances of the American people, not attempting to thwart the President's efforts to ease the financial pressure that so many are feeling.

For these reasons, we strongly oppose the efforts to overturn this relief through the Congressional Review Act (H.J. Res. 45/S.J. Res. 22) and we urge you to consider the harmful impact they would have on the millions of American people and families who are in need of student loan debt relief. Signed,

1000 Women Strong; AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education); Accountable. US; Adasina Social Capital; Affordable Homeownership Foundation Inc.; AFGE; AFL- CIO; AFT Michigan, AFT, AFL-CIO; AFT-Wisconsin, AFT, AFL-CIO; AKPIRG; Alabama State Association of Cooperatives; Alliance for Justice; Amazon Labor Union; American Association of University Professors; American Association of University Women; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); American Psychological Association; Americans for Financial Reform; Appleseed Foundation.

Arkansas Community Organizations; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (AFL-CIO); Associate Students of the University of California, Berkeley; Associated Students of the University of Nevada; Association of Flight Attendants- CWA; Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS); ASUCM External office; Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; Blue Future;; CAARMA; Cabrini Green Legal Aid; California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits); Campaign for College Opportunity; CASH Campaign of Maryland;; Center for American Progress; Center for Economic Integrity; Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR).

Center for Responsible Lending; CFPB Union NTEU 335; Chicago Foundation for Women; Church Women United in New York State; Citizen Action of Wisconsin; Clearinghouse on Women's Issues; Color Of Change; Colorado AFL-CIO; Colorado Fiscal Institute; Columbia Consumer Education Council Inc; Communication Workers of America (CWA); Communications Workers of America District 7; Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (Delaware); Community Service Society of New York; Consumer Action; Consumer Federation of America; Consumer Federation of California; Consumer Reports; Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety; Council of Graduate Schools.

Council on Social Work Education; Debt Collective; Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council; Dream Defenders; Economic Action Maryland; EMPath: Economic Mobility Pathways; Empower our Future; End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund; Equal Justice Works; External Vice President Office of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine; Faith Action for All; Faith in Action; Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Taskforce; Feminist Campus; Feminist Majority Foundation; Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network; Forward Montana; Fosterus; Freedom BLOC; Fresno Building Healthy Communities.

Friendship of Women, Inc.; Hawaii State Teachers Association; HEAL Food Alliance; Hildreth Institute; Hispanic Federation; Housing and Economic Rights Advocates; Indivisible; Instituto de Avance Latino CDC; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc.; Justice in Aging; La Raza Centro Legal, San Francisco; Latinos for Education; LCLAA; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR); LeadMN--College Students Connecting for Change; League of United Latin American Citizens; Legal Action Chicago; Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota.

Louisiana Budget Project; Maine Center for Economic Policy; Maryland Center for Collegiate Financial Wellness Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service Massachusetts Action for Justice; Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Inc.; Michigan Poverty Law Program; Minority Veterans of America; Montana Fair Housing; Mountain State Justice; MoveOn; NAACP; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

National Association of Social Workers:

DC Metro Chapter, Alabama Chapter, Alaska Chapter, Arizona Chapter, Arkansas Chapter, California Chapter, Colorado Chapter, Connecticut Chapter, Delaware Chapter, Florida Chapter, Georgia Chapter, Guam Chapter, Hawaii Chapter, Idaho Chapter, Illinois Chapter, Indiana Chapter, Iowa Chapter, Kansas Chapter, Kentucky Chapter, Louisiana Chapter, Maine Chapter, Maryland Chapter, Massachusetts Chapter, Michigan Chapter, Minnesota Chapter, Mississippi Chapter, Missouri Chapter, Montana Chapter, Nebraska Chapter, Nevada Chapter, New Hampshire Chapter, New Jersey Chapter, New Mexico Chapter, New York City Chapter, New York State Chapter, North Carolina Chapter, North Dakota Chapter, Ohio Chapter, Oklahoma Chapter, Oregon Chapter, Pennsylvania Chapter, Puerto Rico Chapter, Rhode Island Chapter, South Carolina Chapter, South Dakota Chapter, Tennessee Chapter, Texas Chapter, Utah Chapter, Vermont Chapter, Virgin Islands Chapter, Virginia Chapter, Washington Chapter, West Virginia Chapter, Wisconsin Chapter, Wyoming Chapter.

National Association of Student Loan Lawyers; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Law and Economic Justice; National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low- income clients); National Consumers League; National Education Association (NEA); National Employment Law Project; National League for Nursing; National Legal Aid & Defender Association; National Nurses United (NNU); National Urban League; National Women's Law Center; National Young Farmers Coalition; New Era Colorado; New Georgia Project Action Fund; New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center; New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG); NextGen California; Nine Star Enterprises, Inc.

Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU); NTEU Independent Staff Union; Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU); Office of the Nevada State Treasurer; Ohio Student Association; Oregon Student Association; Our Revolution; P Street; Passengers United; People's Action; Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; Protect All Children's Environment; Psycharmor; Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK); Public Citizen; Public Counsel; Public Good Law Center; Public Justice Center; Public Law Center; Quiet Creek Herb Farm.

Rachel Carson Council; RAISE Texas; Red River Association of Educators; Rise;; Rural Coalition; Rutgers University Student Assembly; School Social Work Association of America; Secular Student Alliance; SEIU Local 500; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center; Stella's Girls Inc; Student Borrower Protection Center; Student Debt Crisis Center; Student Loan Fund; Students First Consulting; Students United; Suncoast NORML; Supermajority.

Take on Wall Street; Texas Appleseed; Texas State Teachers Association; The Arizona Students' Association; The Bell Policy Center; The Education Trust; The Hope Center at Temple University; THE ONE LESS FOUNDATION; Towards Justice; UC-AFT, Local 1474; UCSB Associated Students Senate External Affairs Committee; UCSB Lobby Corps; UFCW; UnidosUS; United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400; United Way of Southern Cameron County; University of Wisconsin Law School Consumer Law Clinic; University of California Student Association; Vermont-NEA; Virginia Poverty Law Center.

Washington Council of Lawyers; Washington Office of the Student Loan Advocate; We the 45 Million; Western Center on Law and Poverty; Wisconsin Education Association Council; Women Employed; Xavier University of Louisiana Student Government; Young Invincibles; YWCA USA; Zero Debt Massachusetts.