The measure, which passed the House along party lines last week, would also nullify the pause on student loan payments. That stay on bills has been in effect for more than three years. It might even require borrowers to pay back the interest they’ve saved throughout the pause.
The legislation passed by a 52-46 vote margin, with two Democrats and one independent senator voting with Republicans.
Measure is largely symbolic
Given the expected veto, experts say borrowers have little to worry about.
“It’s not going anywhere,” said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. “It’s basically a form of political posturing to appeal to their base.”
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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., acknowledged that the passage of the legislation was mostly symbolic.
“Unfortunately, the president is guaranteed to veto the measure, and there are not enough Democrats in the House and Senate willing to override his veto,” Thune said on the floor Thursday.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a statement that he voted to overturn the president’s plan because the country can’t afford to add another $400 billion to its national debt. That is the expected cost of Biden’s program.
The policy “forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost,” Manchin said.
Democrats call attempt ‘cruel’
Several Democratic lawmakers released statements condemning the legislation.
“Republicans’ cruel attempt to stand in the way of President Biden’s plans to provide relief to tens of millions of Americans suffering under the crushing weight of student loan debt is damaging to our economy and wildly out of touch with the financial realities facing working families,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
“If you kicked Republicans in the heart, you’d break your toe,” Markey added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the move “a slap in the face” to more than 40 million Americans.
“We should help Americans with student debt, not make their problems worse,” Schumer said.