Jul 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi says Biden lacks "power" to cancel student debt

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said that President Biden lacks the "power" to cancel large amounts of student loan debt.

Why it matters: Pelosi's statements are in contrast with other top Democrats — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — who have called for the president to cancel as much as $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower.

  • The White House has previously said that it was evaluating whether it has the legal powers to cancel student loan debt, per Politico.

The big picture: Americans owe roughly $1.6 trillion in student loans, and the current moratorium on payments is slated to end on Sept. 30.

  • Schumer on Tuesday urged for the moratorium to be extended, saying the president should give people a "chance to recover" from the pandemic.
  • Earlier this month, the administration canceled $55.6 million in student loan debt for victims of for-profit college fraud.
  • Biden has already indicated that he would be unwilling to cancel more than $10,000 per borrower.

What they're saying: “The president can’t do it — so that’s not even a discussion,” Pelosi said during a news conference.

  • "Not everybody realizes that, but the president can only postpone, delay but not forgive student loans. It would take an act of Congress, not an executive order, to cancel student loan debt," she continued.
  • “The administration has the power to do this with the stroke of a pen, so we're calling on them to do it,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said, per Politico.
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