February 28, 2023
Pressley, Advocates Rally for Student Debt Relief Outside Supreme Court
“The Court knows President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt. And they have a clear and simple choice here.”
“Like millions of Black borrowers denied the ability to build generational wealth, I know the burden of student loan debt.”
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) rallied outside the Supreme Court with a diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, borrowers, and members of Congress to call on the Supreme Court to affirm the legality of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
The rally coincided with the Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments in two cases challenging the Biden Administration’s student debt cancellation program.
Rep. Pressley has been a leading voice in Congress urging President Biden to cancel student debt. Following years of advocacy by Rep. Pressley—in partnership with colleagues, borrowers, and advocates—the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic plan to cancel student debt that stands to benefit over 40 million people.
A full transcript of her remarks is available below and full video is available here.
Transcript: Pressley, Advocates Rally for Student Debt Relief Outside Supreme Court
February 28, 2023
Good morning movement family!
And we truly are one human family, one movement family who recognizes that our freedoms and our destinies are tied.
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind.
I woke up thinking about the grandmother who held onto my shoulders as she whispered that she feared she would be paying student loans until she died.
76 years old and owes more than she took out, living on a fixed income, benefits garnished because of student debt she still owes.
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind, thinking about the teacher who left the profession they love because they couldn’t make those student loan payments and manage childcare costs for their son.
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind, thinking about the couple that bought their first home together because the payment pause gave them some financial breathing room for the first time in their lives.
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind, thinking about my own mother. And the history of Black Americans locked out of every major federal relief program from the Homestead Act to the GI Bill, targeted by redlining, denied the ability to build generational wealth because of policy violence, and so we borrow and default at higher rates.
I woke up this morning, family, with a lot on my mind.
But when we start with the people, the policy is clear.
The people demand and deserve student loan cancellation.
Student loan debt cancellation will change and save lives.
That is why President Biden took action. He heeded the calls of all those gathered here today.
He was responsive to the needs of this movement, mobilizing on behalf of the needs of the people burdened by unjust and egregious student loan debt.
With the stroke of a pen and clear legal authority, he responded.
He cancelled student debt.
But callous and spiteful Republican officials disconnected from the hardship of everyday folks who are burdened by this debt — those Republican officials and corporate interests across our nation just couldn’t leave well enough alone.
They saw the transformative power of folks from every walk of life, unburdened by student debt, and instead, they chose obstruction.
Well I am firmly on the side of the people. And I fundamentally believe and was taught by my activist mother, may she rest in peace and power, the power of the people is ALWAYS greater.
Greater than the people in power.
Greater than special interests.
Greater than a broken Supreme Court.
Now movement family, we built a relationship on honesty, so I’m gonna keep it 100.
The Court knows President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt.
And they have a clear and simple choice here. Uphold the law and we can call it a day.
But this court has let us down before, overturning and obstructing the will of the people. This court has been weaponized before. This court has torn away our fundamental rights.
But by hell or high water, we are going to get you the student debt cancellation that President Biden promised.
Like millions of Black borrowers denied the ability to build generational wealth, I know the burden of student loan debt.
I know what it is to land in default when your family is tripped up on economic hard times. And I want to talk about the shame that many borrowers carry.
I’m beyond grateful to each of you who shared your story to make the case for national student debt cancellation.
But let me be clear, this shame was never yours to carry. The only shame is that this nation has burdened families with this crushing debt, but we changed that.
With the flick of a pen, President Biden took decisive and historic action, and 43 million people stand to benefit from this relief.
I won’t say forgiveness because the shame is not yours, and you don’t need to be forgiven anything.
43 million borrowers stand to benefit from this relief and one-in-four Black borrowers to have their debt zeroed out.
He used the clear legal authority that Congress gave him. He moved to change and save lives.
So, we’re not letting up. We will stand behind the President’s legal authority. We will stand up against any bad actors that try to mislead a single borrower out of the relief you demand and deserve.
This is a type of transformative policy that sends ripples forward for generations. We will give the people the relief they demand and deserve.
Come hell or high water, we will cancel student debt.
Co-sponsors of the rally included Young Invincibles (YI), Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC), NAACP, Alliance for Justice, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Debt Collective, Demand Justice, Dream Defenders, Future Coalition, Hip Hop Caucus, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR), March On, MoveOn, National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), National Council of Jewish Women, Inc., National Education Association (NEA), National Urban League, New Georgia Project, NextGen America, Pizza to the Polls, Rise, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), We The 45 Million, 1000 Women Strong, and more.