- Psaki said student loan cancellation via a potential Biden executive order was “still on the table.”
- The White House press secretary made the comments while on the podcast “Pod Save America.”
- The Biden administration extended the pause on federal student loan repayments through August 31.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said President Joe Biden’s use of executive action for the cancellation of some federal student loan debt is “still on the table,” with a decision likely to come in the months ahead.
During an appearance on the podcast “Pod Save America,” Psaki — who is reportedly leaving her post this spring for an on-air role at MSNBC — told cohosts Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer that Biden’s thinking on the issue had not yet been finalized.
“Yes, still on the table, still on the table,” she said regarding student loan cancellation in response to earlier statements made by White House chief of staff Ron Klain about payment pauses.
The Biden administration earlier this month extended the federal pause on student loan repayments through August 31, giving borrowers four additional months from the previous May 1 restart date.
Psaki referenced the August 31 date in stating that a decision will have to be made with that timetable in mind.
“We have to then decide whether it’s extended,” she said. “Nobody’s had to pay a dollar, a cent, anything in student loans since Joe Biden has been president.”
She continued: “If that can help people ease the burden of costs in other parts of their lives, that’s an important thing to consider. That’s a big part of the consideration. So between now and August 31st, it’s either going to be extended or we’re going to make a decision, as Ron referenced, about canceling student debt.”
The push for student debt forgiveness
While Biden has long said that broad cancellation should ideally emerge from Congress, many lawmakers aren’t optimistic that such legislation could pass in the 50-50 Senate, especially with 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
The White House has continued to push for a more lasting solution.
“This is the thing with executive actions — you can go back and forth and overturn them, and obviously we want something in any of these cases where it’s more permanent,” Psaki said during the conversation.
Student loan repayments — which were first frozen for most borrowers in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic — have become a major sticking point for many progressive Democrats, who have argued since the start of the president’s tenure that he has broad latitude to wipe out student loan debt.
As the midterm elections approach, many Democratic lawmakers have become increasingly concerned that Biden’s inaction on student loan cancellation — including declining to forgive up to $10,000 per borrower — may cause a blow to younger voters at the polls this November.
Biden in recent months has seen his support among millennials and Generations X and Z decline precipitously compared to his stronger standing with the silent generation and baby boomers.
‘The White House seems more open to it than ever before’
High-profile politicians including Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, have all called for Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
On Wednesday, Schumer — the majority leader of the Senate — reaffirmed his view that Biden had the ability to use executive orders to eliminate federal student loan debt and said that the White House was “more open” to broad cancellation than in the past.
“Make no mistake about it: this pause isn’t going to stay forever, and the canceling of student debt is the way to go,” the veteran lawmaker said.
Schumer added: “We’re working on it. We’re making progress, folks. We are making progress. The White House seems more open to it than ever before.”