President Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to review whether Biden has the legal authority to cancel student loan debt, White House chief of staff Ron Klain revealed.
The revelation came during an interview Klain gave Thursday to Politico, in which he said the commander-in-chief had not yet made a final call on the matter, something he faces enormous pressure from the progressive left to do.
“He asked his secretary of education — who’s just been on the job a few weeks — once he got on the job to have his department prepare a memo on the president’s legal authority, and hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks,” Klain told the outlet.
“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,” he continued.
When then-candidate Biden gained the Democratic nomination in March last year, the presidential hopeful did not believe a chief executive had the authority to cancel any federal debt without Congress.
Facing pressure from the progressive wing of the party as the general election race heated up, Biden eventually opted to support canceling $10,000 of student debt, a compromise compared to the $50,000 pushed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
In February, the president asked the Justice Department to review his legal authority to cancel $10,000 in student loans. It is not clear what conclusion it returned to him with.
It is also not clear what Cardona has found in his Education Department-led review of presidential authority.
Asked during Tuesday’s press briefing about the difference between the Senate Democrats’ $50,000 proposal and Biden’s $10,000 cancellation effort, White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained that the president was certainly willing to support canceling $50,000 in debt — just not without Congress.
“The president continues to call on Congress to cancel $10,000 in debt for student loan borrowers. That’s something Congress could take an action on, and he’d be happy to sign,” Psaki said.
The press secretary went on to say that the administration was “still taking a closer look at” its “options on student loans.”
“This includes examining the authorities we have, the existing loan forgiveness programs that are clearly not working as well as they should. This includes borrower defense, total and permanent disability charges. There’s a lot of steps we’re looking at, and we’ll continue to review those and be in touch, of course, with Leader Schumer about our process,” she continued.
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