President Biden reportedly spoke with Democratic lawmakers about his openness to forgiving tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt in the coming months, according to CBS and the Washington Post.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration pushed back the federal student loan moratorium until Aug. 31, following a series of extensions over the past two years.
Both outlets based their reports on lawmakers’ descriptions of the meeting. Asked about the reports during a press breifing today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “will make a decision before there’s an end to that pause.”
“Right now, it’s been extended through August. And we have talked about how we are looking at, and he is looking at, other executive authority options he has to bring relief to people who have student loans,” she said. “So that’s what he conveyed during the meeting yesterday.”
During what the reports described as a lengthy meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday, the President reportedly signaled multiple times that he was ready to extend the current moratorium — and possibly use executive action to canceling some student debt.
The President’s meeting with Latino lawmakers also included detailed discussion about immigration policy, environmental justice and the midterm elections later this year, according to CBS.
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) first raised the issue of student debt to Biden during the meeting at the White House. Cardenas told the Post in an interview that he asked the President to extend the moratorium past its current Aug. 31 expiration date.
Cardenas, in his words, claimed Biden smiled as he responded: “Well, Tony, I’ve extended it every time.”
Cardenas then reportedly asked the President to issue an executive order that would cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debts. Cardenas pointed out that Latinos in the country who have student debt are burdened with more than 80 percent of their bill due after dozens of years after leaving school, per the Post.
Cardenas described the President having an “incredibly positive” reception to the idea.
Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) reportedly also chimed in, saying that he would like the President to act on canceling student debt sooner rather than later. In response, Biden suggested he is looking to take executive action soon and that Latino lawmakers he met with would be satisfied with his next move, aides briefed on the meeting told the Post.
The President also reportedly mentioned that he’s asked aides to explore his options on student loan forgiveness, according to CBS.
Biden, however, emphasized that the timing of any announcement related to student loan relief was sensitive, according to the Washington Post. The President reportedly said he did not want relief to potentially add to inflationary pressures.
The President made clear to the lawmakers that he has firsthand experience in dealing with the burden of student loans, saying that he only recently finished paying off his late son Beau’s outstanding student debt, according to the Post.
The President had shied away from committing to the notion of canceling student debt altogether in the past several months, especially for students who attended private universities. Instead, Biden stressed that he was more open to debt forgiveness for lower-income and students and those from marginalized groups.
On the campaign trail, Biden vowed to cancel at least $10,000 of federal student loans per person.