Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., (C) speaks at a news conference along with, left to right, Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 4. All six signed a letter Wednesday calling for President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 per student loan borrower. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Dozens of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to publicly release the Education Department's findings regarding his authority to cancel student loan debt.
In addition to releasing the memos, the letter called on Biden to immediately cancel up to $50,000 of student debt for each student loan borrower in the United States.
"Canceling $50,000 of student debt would give 36 million Americans permanent relief and aid the millions more who will eventually resume payments their best chance at thriving in our recovering economy," the letter shared with UPI said. "In light of high COVID-19 case counts and corresponding economic disruptions, restarting student loan payments without this broad cancellation would be disastrous for millions of borrowers and their families."
The letter was led by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,; and Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Katie Porter, D-Calif., and signed by another 80 senators and representatives.
In February, Biden asked the justice and education departments to review his legal authority to issue an order canceling $10,000 in student loan debt. Though the letter writers and many progressives have called for cancellation of $50,000 in debt, Biden has said he doesn't support the higher dollar figure.
As of November, there was more than $1.75 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt held by some 43.2 million Americans, an average of more than $39,000 each.
Student loans have been in forbearance since March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, halting all required payments and interest accrual. The student loan relief has been extended through May.
Democratic lawmakers warned that once the forbearance ends, more than one-quarter of student loan borrowers expect to pay at least one-third of their income toward student loans.
"As families continue to struggle with financial setbacks emanating from the pandemic, lifting this pause without generous student loan debt cancellation will compound these issues and spur anxiety for working families," the letter read.
"Resuming payments without cancellation would also strip $85 billion from our national economy over the next year. Therefore, eliminating debt before the pause ends is a commonsense step so that millions of borrowers have more breathing room in their families budgets and our national economy is not further held back."