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Biden Silent on Memo to Cancel Student Debt

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Nearly two months ago, at the beginning of April, White House chief of staff Ron Klain told reporters President Joe Biden had asked the Education Department to develop a memo examining his legal authority to wipe out student debt through executive action.

“Hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks. And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision. He hasn’t made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.” But Klain made these remarks back in April, according to NBC News.

Recently a spokesperson for the Education Department said, “We are working closely with the Department of Justice and the White House as quickly as possible to review all options regarding student debt cancellation.”

However, the interagency communication to the public on the construction of a memo has overall been very quiet. It is not clear if the public will be notified once a memo is completed or if a memo will even be constructed.

The deadline for the memo is seen by most as Sept. 30, the time when student loan forbearance will expire. But neither the White House nor the Department of Education has said whether they will extend the forbearance.

When asked for an update on the memo, an official for the White House told reporters, “The president believes that student loans help finance a path to opportunity, not become a lifelong burden, and so White House staff continues to work with agency staff to explore debt relief action that can be taken administratively.”

As the Sept. 30 date draws closer, advocacy groups say they will engage with more meaningful discussions with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to pressure Biden into canceling $50,000 of federal student debt via executive action.

“This is something the president can do,” Warren said earlier this month. “Leader Schumer and I are pushing hard to try to get it done.”

Proponents of canceling student debt argue under the Higher Education Act of 1965 the president has the authority to cancel student loans. Biden said he would support canceling $10,000 of debt but believes $50,000 would be too generous, citing student loans that high came from mostly private colleges.

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