Biden has been sitting on a student-debt memo for over 6 months that could wipe out billions - but he won't reveal what it says

Biden has been sitting on a student-debt memo for over 6 months that would wipe out billions – however he will not reveal what it says

President Joe Biden.

  • Biden’s administration has mentioned for months they’re assessing his authorized authority to broadly cancel student debt.
  • Newly launched paperwork obtained by the Debt Collective present a memo on this has existed since April, and probably since February.
  • Pressure is ramping up on Biden to launch the outcomes of the memo and provides debtors reduction earlier than funds resume in February.

Americans first heard that the Education Department could be reviewing President Joe Biden’s authorized capacity to cancel student debt broadly on April 1, when White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain broke that information to Politico. But whereas Klain mentioned that assessment would take just a few weeks, it’s been practically seven months, and the general public has but to see the outcomes.

But newly launched paperwork present the memo existed simply days after Klain introduced the assessment.

The New Yorker first reported that the Debt Collective – the nation’s first debtors’ union – obtained paperwork and inner Education Department emails through a Freedom of Information Act request that confirmed a primary draft of the memo, titled “The Secretary’s Legal Authority for Broad-Based Debt Cancellation,” has existed since April 5. The memo appeared to the general public as six pages of pink redactions, and in accordance with the interior emails, was circulated inside White House management on the identical day.

Insider spoke with the Debt Collective in regards to the implications of the key memo.

Student debt cancellation memo
Redacted student debt cancellation memo from the Education Department on April 5.

The memo may’ve existed as early as February

An Education Department official wrote on April 3 that following Klain’s feedback, the division will “likely be preparing an updated version of the memo prepared in February,” the identical month White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki first mentioned the administration is “reviewing” debt cancellation actions.

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On April 8, in accordance with the paperwork, the phrase “draft” was faraway from the header, and the memo assumed a brand new title that referenced the HEROES Act – the legislation each Biden and President Donald Trump used to increase the pandemic pause on student-loan funds.

The Education Department didn’t instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark, however a spokesperson informed the New Yorker it’s “continuing to work” with the White House to assessment student debt cancellation choices, and a White House official informed the publication that “these steps take time.”

Braxton Brewington, press secretary for the Debt Collective, informed Insider that though the general public doesn’t know the precise contents of the memo, the truth that it has existed for months however has not been launched is a “political decision.”

“This is in line with how this administration has been moving politically along with student debt cancellation, which is dragging their feet in ways that do seem intentional,” Brewington mentioned. “I think it’s fair to say they’ve had the memos since April, and that the White House saw them and made a political decision to not release it to the public or to not act on it.”

Pressure on Biden to launch the memo has been ramping up

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar led a bunch of her Democratic colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to launch the memo by October 22. The division missed the deadline. Although a spokesperson informed Insider they plan to reply, Omar informed Insider borrower can’t afford to attend.

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“Millions of borrowers across the country are desperately asking for student debt relief,” Omar mentioned. “We know the President can do it with the stroke of a pen.”

Cardona continues to say that conversations are nonetheless ongoing relating to the legality of broad student debt cancellation, most not too long ago on October 26.

“It’s a priority for me and for President Biden to make sure that part of the conversation is examining loan forgiveness,” Cardona mentioned at The Atlantic’s Education Summit on Tuesday. “And those conversations are continuing.”

Brewington mentioned that Biden is likely to be ready to cancel student debt broadly earlier than the midterm elections subsequent yr to assist Democrats win, however Biden nonetheless is aware of the outcomes of the memo, and “economically and morally, people need relief now.”

“The right time to do this was Inauguration Day,” Brewington mentioned. “This is incredibly urgent. And even more urgent since payments are slated to be turned on in February, which will be a disaster and will devastate people who are already in economically precarious places right now due to COVID-19.”