Feb. 17 (UPI) — President Joe Biden is expected to ask the Justice Department whether he has the legal authority to issue an order relieving $10,000 in student loan debt for Americans, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
She addressed the issue during the daily White House press briefing with reporters one day after Biden said he doesn’t support canceling $50,000 in student loans as preferred by more progressive Democrats in Congress.
“Once his team is in place at the Justice Department … he will ask them to conduct a legal review of his authority to act by executive action,” Psaki told reporters.
Biden spoke on student debt Tuesday night during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wis.
“I will not make that happen,” Biden said of calls for the cancelation of $50,000 in debt.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have pushed for the $50,000 figure, saying it would act as an economic stimulus to help narrow the racial wealth gap.
“President Biden has the power to cancel student loan debt by executive action,” Schumer tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “It would help close the racial wealth gap, and give a big boost to families and our economy.”
“An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans,” a joint statement by Schumer and Warren added.
As of December, there’s more than $1.71 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt held by some 44.7 million Americans.
Student loans have been in forbearance since March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, halting all required payments and interest accrual. The student loan relief has been extended through September 2021.