Pelosi says Biden doesn’t hold power to cancel student loan debt, breaking with top Dems

Ella Lee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that President Joe Biden does not have authority to singularly forgive federal student loans, breaking with other leaders in the Democratic party.

“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness; he does not,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”

Pelosi’s counterparts in the Senate disagree. Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have repeatedly called on Biden to cancel student debt, often asserting that the president could act without Congress. 

More:Biden, Congress and student loan forgiveness: What is the federal government doing to address the issue?

Warren told USA TODAY that “the president has the power to deal with student loans on his own,” and Schumer has said student debt could be forgiven by the president “with the flick of a pen.” Warren, Schumer and other progressive Democrats have pushed Biden to forgive $50,000 for borrowers. 

Biden said at a February town hall that he was prepared to write off $10,000 in debt, but not $50,000.

“I will not make that happen,” he said, later contending he does not have the authority to do so as president. 

About $1.7 trillion in student debt is owed by nearly 44 million Americans, Federal Reserve data shows. The figure has more than doubled since 2008

Contributing: Savannah Behrmann