Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, argue that President Joe Biden's plan to transfer student debt is an abuse of executive power in an opinion piece published in the Washington Examiner Thursday.
According to the senators, both Republican and Democrat presidents have attempted to overstep their bounds during their time in Congress and have been criticized for it.
"But in our time in the Senate, we have never seen a president attempt to spend up to a trillion dollars with the stroke of a pen," they write. "To be clear, Biden does not have the authority to cancel billions in student loan debts without congressional authorization."
They added, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed that the authority is not there when she explained that 'People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay, but he does not have that power. That would have to be an act of Congress.' "
In January 2021, the Department of Education issued a memo that agreed with Pelosi and explained why the president does not have the authority to forgive student loans.
Biden has recently claimed that he has this authority under the HEROES Act, a post-9/11 bill passed in 2003 that gave the secretary of education the power to provide flexibility to military members with loans during times of national emergency or war.
The White House is now arguing that this law, which was designed to help members of the military, gives Biden the ability to transfer debt from civilian borrowers to taxpayers because of the March 2020 declaration of COVID-19 as a national emergency.
"In our system of checks and balances, this major decision regarding loan forgiveness must be made through the legislative process, not the stroke of a pen at the White House," the Republicans write. "It's often said that Congress doesn't hide elephants in mouse holes. Estimates of the cost of this program range from $500 billion to $1 trillion."
The senators point out that a college education is an investment and for the average student loan investment of $30,000, a bachelor's degree is worth approximately $2.8 million over the course of a lifetime.
"Biden's student loan debt transfer is an unprecedented abuse of executive authority, an insult to hardworking people who paid off their debt or chose not to take it on at all, and a ticking time bomb that will make the economic hardships many are already experiencing that much worse," Grassley and Portman charge. "All of this is avoidable, and it's yet another example of how the Biden administration is ignoring the needs of working class Americans."
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