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August 24, 2023

Pressley, Warren, Schumer, Omar, Clyburn, Padilla, Wilson, Warnock Lead Lawmakers Urging Biden to Swiftly Deliver Student Loan Debt Cancellation

New Letter Comes One Year After President Biden’s Announcement of Student Debt Cancellation that Supreme Court Blocked

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla, (D-Calif.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), led 78 other lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to swiftly deliver on his promise to deliver student debt cancellation to working and middle class families by early 2024. 

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned that the Supreme Court substituted politics for the rule of law to deny as many as 43 million hard working Americans life-changing relief from crushing student loan debt. In the wake of this outrageous decision, we appreciate your announcement initiating a rulemaking under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to deliver on debt relief and write to urge you to swiftly carry out your commitment to working and middle class families, and cancel student debt by early 2024,” wrote the lawmakers. 

Last year, President Biden’s historic decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for working Americans would provide targeted relief to families – an estimated 90 percent of relief dollars going to borrowers earning less than $75,000 a year, and an estimated 20 million people would have seen their student debt balances eliminated entirely. This relief would help families start a business, buy a home, or save for retirement, and also would help narrow the racial wealth gap.

Black families are more likely to borrow to go to school, take on higher levels of debt, and disproportionately struggle with repayment compared to their white peers. Further, Black and Latino borrowers are also more likely than their white peers to default on their loans. If enacted, almost half of Latino borrowers and one of four Black borrowers would have had their entire debt balance forgiven under President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan. 

“We are facing a student loan crisis that impacts generations of borrowers who collectively hold more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. The burden of student debt is ever-present among vulnerable communities. Nearly one-third of Americans who hold student debt have no degree or credential. Roughly 16 percent of borrowers – including almost one third of senior citizens holding student debt – are in default, with disastrous consequences for their credit and financial health, including the garnishment of wages and government benefits. In fact, nearly three million people over the age of 62 owed more than $110 billion in federal student loans, putting seniors at risk of having their Social Security benefits garnished. More than a third of borrowers eligible for student debt cancellation under your plan are age 40 or older,” continued the lawmakers. 

The lawmakers commended President Biden’s efforts in providing a 12-month “on-ramp” for student loan payments, but expressed concerns that these repayments will place large burdens on borrowers. They are urging the Department of Education to ensure the implementation of the final rule to provide debt relief occurs as quickly as possible to help reduce the risk of further delinquency and default. 

“Although the Supreme Court has chosen to stand in the way of your initial student debt relief plan, we recognize that as President of the United States, you have additional tools to provide relief. Working and middle class families need this relief to come as soon as possible. We urge you to continually find ways to use your authority to bring down student debt, address the rising cost of college, and make postsecondary education affordable for all students who choose that path. Borrowers have already waited nearly a year for the relief you announced in August 2022, and critics of your plan to help 43 million Americans are likely to renew their attacks with regard to your rulemaking announcement. We urge you to reject their bad-faith, partisan attempts to delay relief and carry out your efforts to help borrowers as quickly as possible,” concluded the lawmakers. 

Text of the letter is available here.

Joining the lawmakers in sending the letter are U.S. Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Bennie Thompson (D-Ga.), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Van Hoyle (D-Ore.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), David Trone (D-Md.), Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.), Greg Casar (D-Texas.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Troy Carter (D-La.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), as well as U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

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.

  • On August 22, 2023, Rep. Pressley applauded Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s plan to provide student debt relief for health care workers in Massachusetts.
  • On June 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley responded to the President’s alternative proposal to deliver relief under the Higher Education Act and called for swift and efficient implementation.
  • On June 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley issued a statement slamming the Supreme Court’s decision to block President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan and calling on the President to use other tools available to swiftly cancel student debt.
  • On May 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley filed an amendment to H.R. 3746, legislation to raise the debt ceiling, to protect student loan borrowers and preserve the Biden Administration’s pause on federal student loan payments.
  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley issued a statement slamming Republicans’ harmful effort to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief, including his debt cancellation plan, the pause on student loan payments, and the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech in support of President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt, which would benefit millions of people across the country.
  • On April 5, 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to the CEO of SoFi Technologies and SoFi Lending Corp calling on the company to answer for its lawsuits attempting to end the student loan payment pause and force borrowers back into repayment.
  • On March 7, 2023, Rep. Pressley, along with Sens. Warren, Schumer, Sanders, Padilla and Reps. Clyburn, Omar and Wilson led a letter to the Biden Administration expressing continued support for President Biden’s student debt relief plan.
  • On February 28, 2023, Rep. Pressley rallied with borrowers and advocates outside the Supreme Court to call on the Supreme Court to affirm the legality of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On November 22, 2022, Rep. Pressley issued a statement applauding the extension of the student loan payment pause.
  • On October 25, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren toured communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief.
  • On October 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley joined parent borrowers and advocates for a discussion on the impacts of student debt cancellation on parents and families.
  • On September 29, 2022, Rep. Pressley, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Reps. Omar, Jones and advocates, held a press conference to call for swift and equitable implementation of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On September 21, 2022, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech on the House floor in which she heralded President Biden’s action to cancel student debt for millions of families in the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation. Watch the full video here.
  • On September 20, 2022, Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren, and Rep. Hank Johnson joined Biden-Harris Administration officials to unveil new state-by-state data on the impact of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan. 
  • On September 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren wrote to the nine federal student loan servicers to inquire about how they are providing borrowers with accurate and timely information about student loan cancellation.
  • On August 24, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement applauding President Biden’s action to cancel student debt.
  • On August 10, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren Massachusetts joined Massachusetts union leaders in Dorchester for a roundtable discussion on student debt cancellation.
  • 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 on 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.