A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that, if enacted, would prohibit the federal government from cancelling or forgiving federal student loans because the government does not have the authority to do so and because it’s “unfair for taxpayers who paid student loans or did not attend college to pay for those who chose to take student loans,” according to a copy of the bill.
The House bill, H.R. 8076, introduced last week by Rep. Scott DesJarlais [R-Tenn.] in many ways mirrors a similar bill that was introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Mitt Romney [R-Utah], which also sought to prohibit the mass cancellation of student loans. Rep. DesJarlais’s bill is cosponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson [R-Iowa], Rep. John Rose [R-Tenn.], and Rep. Michael Cloud [R-Texas].
Given the current make-up of Congress, it is unlikely that either bill will become law. But it does further underscore the political divide between Democrats, who have been lobbying President Biden to cancel some or all of outstanding student loan debt, and Republicans who are not in favor of any form of student loan cancellation.
The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Education or the Attorney General from taking “any action to cancel or forgive the outstanding balances, or portion of balances” of what it defines as covered loans. Covered loans would include any loan made, insured, or guaranteed under Part B, D, or E of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The bill would exempt canceling or forgiving student loan debt that were in place on March 12, 2020, which is right before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and the Education Department instituted a moratorium on student loan payments.