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President Biden Will Review Executive Authority to Cancel Student Debt

President Joe Biden just gave hope to millions of people seeking student loan debt cancellation.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has been asked to prepare a memo on the president’s legal authority to cancel student debt, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Thursday. Amid growing pressure for the Biden Administration to address the student loan crisis crippling millions of Americans, Klain said President Biden will make a decision on how to proceed once he reviews the memo, which could be sent to his desk within the next few weeks.

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“He’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision,” Klain said. “He hasn’t made a decision on that, either way, in fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.”

Klain’s comments come as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressuring Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt via executive action. Lawmakers have conceded that they lacked the needed Republican support to pass a bill that would do the same.

President Biden has voiced support for canceling up to $10,000, but he has also said he does not think he has the legal authority to unilaterally wipe out as much as $50,000 without congressional action. The Department of Education memo is being conducted jointly with the Department of Justice, with the Department of Education taking the lead.

More than 40 million Americans are estimated to have student loan debt and the Federal Reserve estimates that in the third quarter of 2020, Americans owed more than $1.7 trillion in student loans. Studies show that students of color are more likely to take on student debt and disproportionately struggle to pay it back.

Klain spoke exclusively to Politico about President Biden’s approach to the student debt crisis. Watch the conversation, below.



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