Pelosi’s New Stance on College Debt

Marjorie Smedley, Staff Writer

With student debt payments and loans for universities and colleges a looming problem over many college students and graduates, thousands of dollars in debt for newly-graduated students, the calls for President Joe Biden to cancel student debt with an executive order have increased over the first year of his presidency, due to there being a democratic president in office. However, support for student debt cancellation may have suffered a setback this July, with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) changing her position on student debt, as she was originally supporting the cancellation of the debt. A few weeks ago, on July 28, Nancy Pelosi walked back her position on college debt, and is now saying that the Biden administration lacks the authority to cancel such a large amount of debt. She is questioning the fairness of the policy, which would greatly benefit students and graduates with smaller amounts of debt instead of people with larger amounts of debt, a majority of which are minority or lower class.

“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness,” Pelosi said. “He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power.”

Her new position puts her at odds with the rest of the Democratic Party and specifically with Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), both of whom have been urging the President for executive action against college debt. Pelosi’s comments came right after an event hosted by Schumer and Warren, in which they called for the President to extend the deadline for student debt payments and to cancel debt up to $50,000. However, Pelosi’s comments means she would rather have any action against student debt taken up in Congress which has a majority in the House, but an even fifty-fifty split in the Senate, which could make any progress difficult. Republicans are against the cancellation of student loans, whether it be through executive order or congressional approval.

Pelosi’s reversal came after a memo was circulated around Washington concerning executive action against Student debt. The memo advocated against executive action, and was started by Democratic megadonors, billionaires Steven and Mary Swig. The Swigs are close to Pelosi, having donated millions of dollars to her campaign as well as the Democratic Party in general. They advocate for a congressional pathway for student debt, questioning the legality of an executive order.

“I’m against Nancy Pelosi’s decision,” said Alicia Baston-Sandoval, junior at McIntosh. “I think it’s really unfair to college students.”

However, with the student loan crisis at an all-time high at $1.6 trillion, time is running out for many and solutions are wanted by many.

Sources :

Friedman, Z. (2021, June 30). Student loan debt statistics In 2021: A Record $1.7 trillion. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2021/02/20/student-loan-debt-statistics-in-2021-a-record-17-trillion/?sh=6c50ffe01431.

Images, A. M. / G., Zhang, S., Sharon ZhangSharon Zhang is a news writer at Truthout. More by this author…, Brewington, B., & Kolundzic, R. (2021, August 6). Pelosi opposed student Loan cancellation After Billionaire Ally’s memo. Truthout. https://truthout.org/articles/pelosi-opposed-student-loan-cancellation-after-billionaire-allys-memo/.

Stratford, M. (2021, July 29). Pelosi rebuffs Schumer’s push to get Biden to cancel student debt. POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/29/pelosi-schume-student-debt-501521.

Sarah, S. (2021, July 28). Congressional Democrats at odds over President Biden’s power to cancel student loan debt. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/student-loan-forgiveness-democrats-next-steps/.