March 11 (UPI) -- The Senate voted Wednesday to overturn an Education Department policy to reverse student loan protections, with 10 Republican senators joining Democrats.
By a 53-to-42 vote, the Senate overturned a rule designed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that would restrict available actions by students who were misled by colleges engaged in misrepresentation or misconduct. A product to the Obama administration, the "borrower defense" rule offered students, largely enrolled in for-profit colleges, to obtain loan forgiveness in some circumstances. DeVos' revision of the rule includes a demand for proof that students were financially harmed, and that they would have no more than 75 percent of their loans forgiven.
The new policy is scheduled to take effect on July 1 and provides more stringent rules under which the government would eliminate a student's debt. It was initially written after the failure of for-profit colleges, notably Corinthian College and ITT Tech.
The House passed the bill in February by a vote of 231 to 180, with six Republican members voting with Democrats. President Donald Trump indicated in February that he would veto the bill, making it only the seventh veto of his administration and the first involving domestic policy.
"I worry this new rule may have unintended consequences in our efforts to hold fraudulent colleges accountable and protect student loan borrowers," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement Wednesday. "We need a policy in place that will allow defrauded students the chance to have their loan debt forgiven, while protecting good colleges and taxpayers."
Some Congressional Republicans argued that the standards were too lax and unfair to taxpayers and to colleges accused of fraud.
"The Obama administration's rules went too far and allowed borrowers to have their loans forgiven whether or not they had actually suffered financial harm," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in debate Tuesday. "Secretary DeVos' new borrower defense rule restores the original intent of the law, that the borrower must be misled and harmed in order to receive debt relief."