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August 24, 2022

VIDEO: On MSNBC’s The ReidOut, Pressley Applauds Biden Action to Cancel Student Debt

“This is impactful. This is a bold step in the right direction. It is transformative and it will be felt.”

Video (YouTube)

BOSTON – Tonight, on MSNBC’s The ReidOut, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) applauded President Biden’s decision today to cancel student debt. Rep. Pressley issued a statement on the President’s decision earlier today. 

A full transcript of her interview is below, and video is available here

JOY REID: Today, joining me now Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. And Congresswoman, you know, just if you isolate just Black families alone, this is cut to for my producers, Black families with loan debt, 30% of them. White families with loan debt, if you just isolate them 20% do. Hispanic families with loan debt, 14% have this loan debt. It is actually a big deal, particularly for families of color. Do you think that this winds up redounding to the political benefit of Democrats in the fall, and do you think that’s why Biden did it? 

REP. PRESSLEY: Democrats win when we deliver and when people can feel the transformative impact, the meaningful impact, the day-to-day impact of our policies, and our advocacy on their behalf. And this is transformative.  

This is an unprecedented step to alleviate the burden that people are feeling to the tune of a $2 trillion crisis. And while I know we’ve been very focused in your most recent clip there, Joy, about the benefit to young people. This is affecting people from every walk of life. And the fact that a 23 million people will have their debt reduced [sic], 20 million people will have their debt canceled outright, one in four Black borrowers, their debt will be gone.  

So this is transformative, they will feel the impact of this. And this is sound policy, and that it is an economic justice issue and a racial justice issue and a gender justice issue in that two thirds of this debt is borne by women. And it is good politics. It’s good policy and good politics. 

JOY REID: Now we have to get to the counterpoint, because I want you to, I want you to hear some of the what people are saying on the other side. Now we know that this was a big policy of Bernie Sanders, of Bernie Sanders. And that’s why a lot of young people liked him. And it was something that President Biden adopted. Nina Turner, who was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders, she tweeted, more should be done. Why stop at 20,000? Why stop at 20? Cancel all student debt. What do you say to people who say it’s not enough? 

REP. PRESSLEY: Joy, I have to just acknowledge where we started. When the issue of student debt cancellation was introduced into the national discourse, people really sought to marginalize the issue. And many thought that student debt cancellation was something that would be regressive in impact. There was a harmful and false narrative, that it would only benefit white graduate students who went to prestigious or affluent institutions. And of course, that is not true.  

This is about educators who have sleepless nights because they can’t meet the monthly minimums and pay for child care, who took on this debt because they want to educate our babies.  

This is about 76 year-olds in my district, Joy, on fixed incomes, still paying student loans, who fear that they’re going to die still paying on these loans. At this point, they owe more than they took out. 
85% of students have no — Black students have no choice but to take out loans, five times more likely to default. I was one of those students, that is not abstract for me. I struggled to pay off my loans, and I have, and I want better for the next generation.  

Joy, we know we have to address the root causes when it comes to affordability of higher education. We’ve got to make that investment in the public good that it is, we need to invest in tuition-free community college. We need to invest in HBCUs. And we need to expand Pell Grants.  

But this is impactful. This is a bold step in the right direction. It is transformative and it will be felt. 

JOY REID: And I have very little time left. But there is the other argument too. I mean, Rick Scott, who was worth $259 million, and did tweet this from a yacht off the coast of Italy, but also the Washington Post who said the loan forgiveness decision, they thought it was bad. “Widely canceling student debt is regressive. It takes money from the broader tax base mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize education debt for people with valuable degrees.” What do you say to people who say that? 

REP. PRESSLEY: Wow, they are really disconnected from the lived experiences and hardship of everyday people. There’s a reason why we were able to get organized labor behind this, from AFL-CIO to AFT, to NEA. Civil rights groups, like the NAACP, and many other groups that have worked with us on this because this, this is a burdensome issue. This is no handout. 

Our colleagues across the aisle don’t know what a hand up looks like. That’s why they didn’t want a child tax credit. That’s why they didn’t want to give life-saving health care to veterans. That’s why they didn’t want to give stimulus checks to people in the midst of a pandemic or make sure they remain safely housed. 

Democrats are connected to the pain that everyday people are experiencing. And we are doing something about it, which is why we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, and which is why today this unprecedented step by President Biden, heeding our calls. Joy, this has been two years of blood, sweat and tears and you will not break my soul. 

JOY REID: And quoting Beyonce too while she’s doing it, the great Ayanna Pressley. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you very much. 

Rep. Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have consistently called on President Biden to cancel student debt. Last year, they led their colleagues in reintroducing their bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel federal student loan debt. 

  • On July 18, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention and renewed her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt by executive action.
  • On July 8, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley with The Debt Collective hosted a virtual roundtable with student debt holders from all walks of life to highlight the intersectional burden the nearly $2 trillion student debt crisis has had on individuals and families. 
  • On June 22, 2022, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined AFL-CIO and union leaders for a roundtable discussion on the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers.
  • On May 20, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley applauded the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) statement calling on President Biden to cancel student loan debt.
  • On May 4, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley visited Bunker Hill Community College to celebrate the $1 million in federal community project funding she secured and continued her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt.
  • On March 17, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, published an op-ed in Grio calling on President Biden to use his executive order authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
  • On December 8, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a bicameral letter to President Joe Biden releasing new data about the adverse impact of restarting student loan payments and calling on him to act to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt.
  • On December 2, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks on the House floor in which she reiterated her calls for President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt by executive action.
  • On October 8, 2021, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar and their House colleagues sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to release the memo to determine the extent of the administration’s authority to broadly cancel student debt through administrative action.
  • On July 29, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement reaffirming President Biden’s authority – and the urgency – to cancel student loan debt.
  • On June 23, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Joe Courtney led their colleagues on a bicameral letter to President Biden calling on him to extend the pause on federal student loan payments.
  • On April 13, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley testified at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing to examine the student loan debt crisis in our country.
  • On April 1, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, held a press conference calling President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
  • On February 4, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with several Democratic House and Senate leaders, led their colleagues in reintroducing a bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis. 
  • On December 17, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Maxine Waters, and Alma Adams introduced a resolution outlining a bold plan for President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for student loan borrowers.
  • On December 10, 2020, Congresswoman Pressley was in Yahoo Finance urging the Biden administration to cancel student debt, stressing the impact on Black borrowers.
  • On May 8, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alma Adams, and Ilhan Omar, led 28 of their colleagues and sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for the universal, one-time, student debt cancellation of at least $30,000 per borrower in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.
  • On March 23, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar introduced the Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, legislation that provides immediate monthly payment relief for federal student loan borrowers.
  • On March 17, 2020, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on The Hill calling on congressional leadership to include student debt cancellation in the next coronavirus relief package.
  • On October 11, 2019, Congresswoman Pressley introduced legislation – the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act – to protect consumers from abusive debt collection.
  • On July 17, 2019, Congresswomen Pressley introduced legislation – the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act – to provide much needed support to private student loan borrowers with a pathway to financial stability by helping them improve their credit.