Groups From All 50 States Warn Lawmakers: Abuse of the Congressional Review Act Will Wreak Economic Havoc on Tens of Millions
May 8, 2023 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, 261 organizations representing tens of millions of borrowers, students, workers, people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, consumers, and people of faith sent a letter calling on members of Congress to reject Republican efforts to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to retroactively reverse the federal student loan payment pause and block President Biden’s debt relief plan.
This unprecedented action would not only block the President’s pledge to broadly cancel student debt, but it would also roll back four months of paused payments and waived interest charges—requiring the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to send surprise loan bills to tens of millions of people.
If enacted, the extreme partisan proposal would also result in chaos for military families, educators, first responders, and other public service workers in communities across the country. Because the pandemic-era pause on student loan payments provided months of credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), this proposal would force ED to claw back months of progress towards PSLF and Income-Driven Repayment relief and even reinstate already-cancelled debts for more than 156,000 public service workers, according to an estimate by the Student Borrower Protection Center.
The letter comes as congressional Republicans ramp up cruel, unjust, and irresponsible attacks on student loan borrowers, including their recently House-passed debt limit increase proposal, which included trillions in cuts to vital programs and would make the student loan debt crisis permanent.
A copy of the letter to Senate and House leadership can be found here.
A quote sheet from letter signers can be found here.
The groups caution in their letter:
“These CRA efforts would immediately force tens of millions of borrowers into abrupt and unplanned repayment with devastating effects, including adding thousands of dollars of payments and interest onto their loan balances. It would also force the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to unwind loans forgiven under Public Service Loan Forgiveness for nurses, educators, servicemembers, and hundreds of thousands of other public service workers across the country.”
“ED analysis demonstrates that a resumption of loan payments without cancellation will spike delinquency and default rates for the most financially vulnerable. Further, more than 26 million Americans applied for student debt cancellation in the few weeks before it was shut down by partisan attacks in the federal courts. This extraordinary engagement with President Biden’s cancellation plan is further evidence of both the crushing burden this debt places on workers and families from all walks of life and the promise of hope debt cancellation offers for millions seeking an economic fresh start.”
Analyses from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) highlight growing rates of consumer distress as the country faces the highest level of inflation in nearly four decades. Additionally, a recent analysis by SBPC highlights the economic catastrophe that would result from congressional efforts to use the CRA to forcibly restart student loan payments and block debt relief.
Since March 2020, more than 37 million borrowers across the country have benefitted from the moratorium on student loan payments and suspension of interest. This set of student loan protections, which was originally enacted by former President Donald Trump and received bipartisan Congressional support up until recently, has been extended via executive actions by both administrations a total of eight times. The payment pause has provided much-needed economic breathing room for working families, allowing student loan borrowers to collectively shift more than $222 million in student loan payments to pay down other debts and improve their credit, afford medication, and simply make ends meet.
If this bill is enacted, according to the SBPC analysis, tens of millions of borrowers would be forcibly thrown back into repayment, during a time when student loan servicers are publicly warning that they are unprepared to manage a restart of student loan payments. Additionally, data from ED show that more than 156,000 public service workers—nurses, servicemembers, educators, first responders, and more—have achieved cancellation through PSLF during this same payment pause window and as a result could see their PSLF progress reversed and even see loans reinstated as a result of Republican-led CRA resolutions.
In a matter of weeks following President Biden’s historic student debt cancellation announcement, 26 million borrowers submitted applications—further evidence of the crushing burden this debt has had on workers and families from all walks of life. Sixteen million borrowers have already been approved for relief. As a result of these overtly political lawsuits, tens of millions of borrowers are now left in economic limbo as they await a Supreme Court ruling in June—with the looming threat of payments set to resume later this year. These CRA resolutions, if enacted, will add to the confusion and panic that borrowers all over the country are already experiencing as they wait on the court.
About Student Borrower Protection Center
The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. We engage in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance racial and economic justice for all.