Minnesota U.S. Rep. Omar Demands Biden Cancel Student Debt


Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) wrote a letter to the Biden Administration demanding that they cancel student debt. Omar said that Biden could cancel student debt “with a flick of his pen.” The letter is asking that the Biden Administration “release the memo to determine the extent of the administration’s authority to broadly cancel student debt through administrative action.”

Omar wrote that, “The time has come to release the memo and cancel student debt.”

The letter comes after President Biden “canceled” 1.5 billion dollars of student loans, which applied to “92,000 student loan borrowers under the borrower defense to repayment rule.”

The document demanding action, addressed to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, is signed by 18 members of Congress, including all four members of the Squad: Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13).

“Decades ago, Congress voted to authorize the executive branch to cancel federal student loans. Federal student debt can be canceled with the ‘flick of your pen,’” the Members wrote. “This authority is already being put to use, as it is currently being used to cancel the interest owed on all federally-held student loans. Now it is time for you to honor your campaign pledge and use this authority to cancel all student debt.”

Omar said in a press release, “In April, the White House promised that this memo would be released in a matter of ‘weeks.’ Over six months have passed since then. With only four months left before the student loan moratorium expires, borrowers are anxiously awaiting the administration’s actions. Making matters worse, one week ago over 16.5 million borrowers were dropped by their loan-services, adding more confusion to the chaos.”

They claim that for Biden to say he cannot cancel student debt would be “legal gymnastics.” The letter reads, “It would be an exercise in legal gymnastics to suggest that the President had the authority to cancel the interest on student debt on his first day, but lacks the authority to cancel the principal on student debt moving forward.”

“With a single signature, you can improve the economy, create new jobs, transform the lives of 45 million Americans, narrow the racial wealth gap, and maintain the trust of voters,” they wrote.

The letter also blamed racial inequalities for the student debt crisis. “We must also recognize that student debt significantly reinforces inequality. Two thirds of all student debt is held by women, with Black women the most burdened of all. Twenty years after starting college the average white student owes 6% of what they originally borrowed, around $1,000, while the average Black student still owes 95%, around $18,500. Cancelling all student debt would narrow the racial wealth gap among young Americans by more than half.”

Omar’s communication finished by calling canceling student debt the “morally right thing to do.” Omar said it would be “policy violence” for Biden to turn on student debt payments “in the middle of a pandemic.”

The legislators say that, “Turning student debt payments back on in the middle of a pandemic is an act of policy violence. Cancelling student debt is both the morally right and economically sound thing to do.”

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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].





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