The Biden administration is preparing to end the COVID pause on student loan payments, potentially risking backlash from voters who Biden promised would have their debts forgiven.
With the legal status of Biden's ambitious, controversial relief plan up in the air, Biden's top education bureaucrat Miguel Cardona told the Senate Thursday that payments will resume within 60 days of June 30 at the latest.
At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Cardona said the administration is ending the pause in acknowledgment that the coronavirus emergency is over. The administration made it official on Thursday, May 11.
“The emergency period is over, and we’re preparing our borrowers to restart,” he said.
Although Biden's student debt forgiveness is also predicated on the COVID emergency, Cardona said he is "confident" the Supreme Court will return a favorable ruling on the controversial push to wipe away billions in debt.
Cardona insisted he is able "to create a waiver for those who are impacted significantly by the pandemic — very similar to small businesses the year before, where Congress provided a little bit of support.”
The student loan program has been condemned as a thinly veiled payoff to Biden's base that will leave non-college voters footing the bill. A Supreme Court ruling is expected sometime in the coming weeks.
Surprisingly, Cardona said the "same logic must apply to student loans" when asked if he agrees with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that borrowers are responsible for paying back home and car loans. Jean-Pierre made the comment while defending Biden in the debt limit battle.
Biden has said America is not a "deadbeat nation" as he demands a "clean" agreement from Republicans to raise the limit without spending cuts. Republicans have targeted Biden's student loan plan, which costs an estimated half a trillion dollars.
It would be surprising if the court gave Biden a favorable ruling, after previously admonishing overreach from his administration in various instances.
Biden has broken so many promises already, it's hard to say what he'll do next if the court shoots him down. It's notable that Biden has said in the past that he would not extend the pause again, only to do just that.
He renewed it again in November, saying it wasn't "fair" for borrowers to pay while the courts deliberate. The latest pause is expected to cost $40 billion alone.
Borrowers haven't had to pay student loans for almost three years. President Trump initially enacted the moratorium, and Biden has continuously extended it.
Cardona said the administration would ensure there is a "smooth reentry to repayment."