Biden's student forgiveness would cost $400 billion 000:1
Washington (CNN) -- Both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed a bill to block President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness program, which promises to cancel up to $20,000 of debt to millions of borrowers but has been blocked by the courts.
The bill now goes to Biden's desk for his signature, but the president has vowed to veto the legislation.
Some moderate Democrats voted in favor of the law along with Republicans. The Senate passed the bill Thursday and the House passed the bill last week.
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Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana voted in favor, as did independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The resolution did not pass with a veto-proof majority.
Last week, Maine Rep. Jared Golden and Washington Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, both Democrats, also voted in favor of the bill in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, borrowers are still waiting for the Supreme Court's decision, which will determine whether the student loan forgiveness program can go into effect. The judges are expected to rule in late June or early July.
The White House has argued that the proposal to cancel some student debt will help protect borrowers from default when student loan payments resume later this year after a one-year pause related to the pandemic.
But Republicans argue that the student loan forgiveness program is illegal and shifts the cost of debt to taxpayers who decided not to go to college or who have already paid off their student loans. Blocking the program could reduce the deficit by nearly $320 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Republican lawmakers introduced their joint resolution in late March, invoking the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to repeal executive branch regulations without exceeding the 60-vote threshold in the Senate that is necessary for most legislation.
If the student loan forgiveness program is allowed to go ahead, individual borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of household with incomes of less than $250,000 a year could receive up to $10,000 forgiveness of their federal student loan debt.
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If a qualified borrower also received a federal Pell grant while enrolled in college, the individual is eligible for a forgiveness of up to $20,000.
Although debt relief would help borrowers who currently have student loans, the program would not change the cost of college in the future, and some critics argue it could even lead to increased tuition.
What are the legal challenges to the debt forgiveness program?
In February, the Supreme Court allowed two appeals against Biden's student loan forgiveness program. One was filed by six Republican-led states, and the other by two student loan borrowers who did not qualify for full program benefits. The people are backed by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative organization.
The lawsuits argue that the Biden administration is abusing its power and using the covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to fulfill the president's election promise to cancel student debt.
The White House said it received 26 million applications before a Texas trial court blocked the program nationwide in November, and that 16 million of those applications were approved for forgiveness.
So far, none of those debts have been forgiven. But if the Supreme Court allows the program to go into effect, the government may rush to cancel them.
If the justices strike down Biden's student loan forgiveness program, it's possible the administration will make some policy changes and try again, though that process could take months.
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Biden's Other Policies on Student Debt
Biden has repeatedly extended the pause on federal student loan payments. Accounts have been frozen and most federal borrowers have not had to make any payments for more than three years.
But the pause will end at the end of this year.
The Biden administration tied the resumption date to litigation over the separate student loan forgiveness program. Payments will resume 60 days after the Supreme Court issues its ruling or 60 days after June 30, whichever comes first. A debt ceiling bill, currently before Congress, would also prohibit another extension.
The Biden administration has also introduced some lesser-known, but potentially longer-lasting, changes to the federal student loan system.
The new rules that take effect in July could expand eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which is designed to help government and nonprofit workers. There is also a new income-based amortization plan proposal that aims to reduce eligible borrowers' monthly payments and reduce the amount they pay over time. Parts of that new amortization plan are expected to take effect later this year.
The Department of Education has also made it easier for borrowers who were deceived by their for-profit college to apply for student loan forgiveness under a program known as borrower advocacy for repayment, as well as for those who are permanently disabled.
In total, the Biden administration has approved more than $66 billion in targeted aid to nearly 000.2 million borrowers.
-- CNN's Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.