Senate Republicans have legislation announced to prevent Joe Biden’s plan of a one-time discount of up to $20,000 per borrower.
The bill follows the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determinant that Biden’s loan cancellation plan could face expedited congressional scrutiny.
The effort to undo loan forgiveness is noteworthy, but is unlikely to have any impact on whether borrowers receive the expected forgiveness.
Senate resolution to cancel Biden’s one-time pardon program
A recent decision by the GAO means that the one-time pardon plan falls under the authority of the Congressional Review Act. This law allows expedited congressional review of actions taken by the president.
Most notably, this review process allows Congress to reverse presidential actions without the threat of a Senate filibuster.
What does this complicated legal process mean for borrowers?
That means there could be a vote in the coming days that overturns Biden’s debt cancellation plans.
The troubling news for borrowers
The scary part of the Republican effort is its high chance of passing.
Without the threat of a filibuster, Republicans need a simple majority in both the House and the Senate.
Republicans already have a narrow House majority and several moderate Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin and Catherine Cortez Masto, criticized Biden’s loan cancellation plan.
Chances are a majority in the House and Senate will vote to cancel the plan for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness per borrower.
The safety net for borrowers
Importantly, even if the Republican plan wins a majority in Congress, Biden can veto it.
In other words, it doesn’t stop the loan cancellation plan even if it passes.
What about the Supreme Court case? The one-time pardon plan is also pending before the Supreme Court. The actions taken by Congress should not affect how Congress decides the case.
However, the Supreme Court can decide without risking a presidential veto, meaning the Supreme Court case remains the biggest threat to borrowers’ loan cancellation hopes.
The Republican Goal
If Biden can easily veto the effort to stop loan forgiveness, what good is proposing the legislation?
Like just about everything else in Congress, it’s about politics.
Republicans can use a veto to assert that Biden is out of touch with ordinary Americans who don’t want loan forgiveness.
More importantly, forcing a vote may put some Democratic senators in difficult positions. Voting for pardon could upset some independent voters. Voting against forgiveness will surely upset student borrowers.