Jun 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Warren delaying confirmation of Biden education nominee over student loan policies

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is delaying the confirmation of President Biden's pick to lead higher-education policy at the Education Department as she pushes for reforms of the federal student loans program, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The state of play: The negotiations have hampered the swift confirmation of James Kvaal as undersecretary of education, whose nomination to the position was advanced with bipartisan support by the Senate's education panel in April.

  • Warren is in talks with the Biden administration to make changes to the management of the program, with "tougher oversight of loan servicing companies," writes the Washington Post, which first reported that she's blocking the nomination.
  • Kvaal has advocated for many of the reforms Warren has supported, including updating student loan policies for public servants, going after predatory colleges and helping defrauded borrowers, per the Post.

Between the lines: Warren has publicly urged Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers, but the nomination holdup is "not about cancellation; this is about the administration of the student loan program," the source said.

  • Warren has also called on the Education Department to fire major student loan contractors for their poor treatment of borrowers, and for the administration to explain plans for unfreezing the moratorium on student loan payments in the fall.

What they're saying: “We’ve been working with senate offices and are encouraged by the conversations and developments around James Kvaal’s nomination,” Vanessa Harmoush, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, told the Post.

  • “We share the same goals around making the Federal Student Aid office more consumer-friendly and an advocate for student borrowers," she added.

"The Warren office is engaged in ongoing conversations with James and the department about a range of necessary reforms in higher education including the administration of the student loan program," the source told Axios.

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