Sen. Chuck Schumer puts on “cancel student debt” mask.
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The Senate voted to end the government’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.
Twelve Democrats joined every GOP senator in favor of the resolution.
The emergency status was a key tool Biden has used to give student-loan borrowers debt relief.
The Senate just voted to end a key tool President Joe Biden has used to give student-loan borrowers relief.
On Tuesday evening, 62 senators voted on a resolution to end the government’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, which has been in place since former President Donald Trump implemented it in March 2020. It was introduced by GOP Sen. Roger Marshall, who said on the Senate floor on Tuesday that the emergency declaration was allowing Biden “to supersize government powers.” Marshall first brought up the issue in October, after Biden declared the pandemic “over” but later walked back that comment.
The resolution had 36 nays, all from Democratic lawmakers, but 12 Democrats joined Republicans to end the emergency declaration. Notably, the status has given Biden the authority to extend the student-loan payment pause five times since he took office, and was the administration’s legal basis for canceling student debt broadly. Both measures relied on using the HEROES Act of 2003, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19.
It’s unclear at this point if the House will take up the resolution — they didn’t vote on a similar measure back in March, when the GOP tried to end the emergency declaration at the time.
At this point, the implementation of Biden’s student-loan forgiveness is paused due to two federal court rulings over the past week that halted the policy, ruling in favor of lawsuits that sought to block the debt relief. Given that these legal proceedings could take months, the White House is reportedly considering extending the student-loan payment pause yet again.
In response to the resolution ending the COVID-19 emergency, the Office of Management and Budget released a statement saying that if “Congress passes this resolution, the President will veto it.”
“Preserving our ability to respond is more important than ever as we head into the winter, when respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 typically spread more easily,” the statement said. “Strengthened by the ongoing declaration of national emergency, the federal response to COVID-19 continues to save lives, improve health outcomes, and support the American economy.”
“Action by Congress to end these authorities abruptly and prematurely would be a reckless and costly mistake,” it added.
Along with extending student-debt relief, the government has used the emergency status to extend customs deadlines, along with increasing access to telehealth providers.
Here are the 12 Democrats who voted to end the pandemic’s emergency declaration:
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of NevadaSen. John Hickenlooper of ColoradoSen. Tim Kaine of VirginiaSen. Amy Klobuchar of MinnesotaSen. Joe Manchin of West VirginiaSen. Chris Murphy of ConnecticutSen. Jacky Rosen of NevadaSen. Jeanne Shaheen of New HampshireSen. Jon Tester of MontanaSen. Mark Warner of VirginiaSen. Chuck Schumer of New YorkSen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona