Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stood alongside high-profile progressives in Congress in front of a podium that said “#CANCEL STUDENT DEBT,” a favorite slogan of the activist class, to push the Biden administration on a key economic issue.
The resolution, which Schumer first introduced last fall with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would “cancel” $50,000 in student loan debt for each borrower through executive action, a sum that goes far beyond what Biden has already pledged to nix while in office.
In an outdoor briefing on Thursday, the Democratic leader said he has already had a receptive response from the White House.
“We have met with the president, we are pushing the president and his people, and we are very hopeful,” Schumer said, sharing that he and Warren met with Biden and administration officials privately for 45 minutes to lay out a proposed executive action.
Biden has promised to eliminate $10,000 in federal student loan debt for each student.
Asked about the renewed push later in the afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Biden’s support for his original proposal, suggesting that it was unlikely that anything more would be done through executive orders.
“On day one, the first day of his administration, he directed the Department of Education to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions of Americans with federal student loans,” Psaki said. “That was a step he took through executive action, but he certainly supports efforts by members in Congress to take additional steps, and he would look forward to signing it.”
Schumer was joined by Warren and “Squad” Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN)—the original co-sponsors of the companion House resolution from last December—as well as other House members pressing the issue.
“America does not suffer from scarcity, we suffer from greed,” Omar said, linking burdensome debt to the differing chances of students who come from wealthy families versus those in middle- and working-class households.
Schumer’s desire to publicly present a loan forgiveness alternative to what Biden has offered has been perceived by some on the left as a way to help stave off a possible primary challenge in his native New York. The senior Democrat is up for re-election in 2022, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is thought to be contemplating a primary challenge for this Senate seat.