Republicans’ Attempt to Block Biden’s Student Loan Repayment Plan Ends in Failure

The Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-led attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s new student loan repayment plan, which critics referred to as a “free college scheme.”

In a 49-50 vote along party lines, the Democrat-controlled Senate countered the latest challenge to Biden’s income-driven payback option known as “Saving on A Valuable Education,” or SAVE. Only Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia voted with the GOP.

Biden stated in a memo on Tuesday that he would have vetoed the two-step joint resolution if it had passed and reached his desk.

The plan, which already has 5.5 million borrowers enrolled, will limit interest for borrowers and determine monthly loan repayments based on their income and family size. Some borrowers will have their payments set to $0. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has called it the “most affordable repayment plan ever.”

The attempt to overturn the plan, although unsuccessful, serves as further evidence of the challenge Biden faces in forgiving student loans or making payment adjustments, as it is one of his top political priorities.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced the joint resolution on the Senate side in early September with other Congressional Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York, criticized the attempt for its impact on working families, and expressed relief when the measure failed. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, who proposed forgiving the entirety of America’s nearly $2 trillion in student loan debt as a presidential candidate, believes that Biden’s student debt relief plans have not gone far enough.

Americans remain divided on student loan forgiveness as Biden prioritizes the issue

This back-and-forth over student loan forgiveness showcases the partisan nature of the issue in Washington and across the country. Democrats overwhelmingly support loan forgiveness, while Republicans are generally opposed. Despite this divide, Biden has vowed to pursue alternative plans after the Supreme Court blocked his broader loan forgiveness proposal earlier this year.

Student loan debt has become a political and economic crisis in recent years, despite a temporary pause in payments during the pandemic. The expiration of the moratorium and the return to repayment have revealed flaws in the system. Borrowers faced long wait times and billing errors, prompting a federal probe.

This fall, a panel convened by the Education Department is engaged in discussions about loan forgiveness. While substantial relief is unlikely, targeted forms of debt relief may arise from these talks, although legal and political challenges are expected.

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