Republican senators announced on Friday they will be introducing a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in another attempt to foil President Biden’s student debt relief program, which is already facing potential termination at the Supreme Court.
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to examine new regulations made by government agencies and overturn them with a majority vote.
The effort to use the CRA to stop Biden’s plan is led by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.).
“It’s a shame for working families across the country that Republican lawmakers continue to fight tooth and nail to deny critical relief to millions of their own constituents impacted by the pandemic. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and [Education] Secretary [Miguel] Cardona recognize how essential this relief is for tens of millions of working families, and they will continue fighting to deliver much-needed support to borrowers trying to get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic,” a White House spokesperson said in response to their resolution.
The senators introduced the resolution following a report from the Government Accountability Office that declared Biden’s student loan relief and payment pause are rules subject to the CRA.
In response to the GAO’s decision, the White House said the student debt relief plan “is based on the Department of Education’s decades-old authority granted by Congress and is a result of the same procedures used by multiple administrations over the last two decades to protect borrowers from the effects of national emergencies.”
“This longtime statutory authority has never been subject to the Congressional Review Act. GAO’s decision is at odds with clear longstanding practice, and the Department remains fully confident that its debt relief plan complies with the law,” the spokesperson added.
If a Senate majority supported the resolution, Biden’s student loan forgiveness would be overturned and a federal agency would not be able to propose another plan similar to it unless it was put into law.
“Where is the relief for the man who skipped college but is paying off his work truck, or the woman who paid off her loans and is now struggling to afford her mortgage? This resolution prevents these Americans, whose debts look different from the favored group the Biden administration has selected, from picking up the bill for his irresponsible and unfair policy,” Cassidy said.
It is unlikely the resolution would get enough support in the Democratic-led Senate, although some Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) have previously been critical of Biden’s program, which eliminates up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower and is estimated to cost $400 billion.
The loan forgiveness is already hanging in the balance at the Supreme Court, where a majority-conservative court seemed highly skeptical of the legality of the plan during oral arguments last month.
—Updated at 4:54 p.m.