From Your Lobbyist: AYA Attends Sen. Warren’s Unveiling of Student Debt Cancellation Bill
July 26, 2019
Week of Jul 22-26.
AYA Attends Sen. Warren’s Unveiling of Student Debt Cancellation Bill: On Tuesday, July 23rd AYA had the honor of being invited to the unveiling of the Student Loan Debt Relief Act, a bicameral bill introduced by Senator Warren (D-MA) and House Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC) that would wipe out student debt for 75%, or 42 million of the 45 million Americans saddled in debt. Strongly endorsed by AYA, this proposal would cancel up to $50,000 of outstanding student loan debt for each qualified borrower. Borrowers earning $100,000 or less will be eligible for the full $50,000 in debt cancellation, and the cancellation amount will reduce by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000. Additionally, the legislation includes other important benefit for borrowers, including the ability to convert private loans into federal loans that qualify for cancellation and the ability to discharge student debt in bankruptcy.
In addition to being invited to the event where Ben Brown, AYA’s founder, got a chance to tell Senator Warren about AYA’s work on behalf of our 20,000 members, AYA was included in her original press release about the bill: “Recognizing that the $1.5 trillion student debt burden is stifling the overall success of 45 million Americans, the Association of Young Americans (AYA) is grateful that Senator Warren and Congressman Clyburn have put forth strong legislation that if enacted, would provide full loan cancellation for 75% of borrowers and offer partial cancellation for those making $100,000 or more,” said Ben Brown, founder of the Association of Young Americans. “AYA believes that The Student Loan Debt Relief Act would strategically provide cancellation for the borrowers who need it most, including those from traditionally underserved backgrounds, and would provide meaningful economic opportunities by closing the wealth gap. Additionally, we are pleased that this bill would offer refinancing opportunities and the ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, for any borrowers with remaining debt after cancellation. AYA strongly endorses The Student Loan Debt Relief Act and are excited for the opportunity for our members to champion its passage into law.” Over the next few months, AYA will meet with members of Congress to advocate for its passage.
Budget Deal Reached, Potential for Government Shutdown Less Likely: The big news in Washington this week (aside from the Mueller hearings) was an agreement between the President and Congressional leadership to a budget deal that would lift existing spending caps for the next two fiscal years and raise the debt ceiling until 2021. Under the terms of this agreement, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes education, for FY 2020 would increase by 4% or $24.5 billion over the current fiscal year. However, the increases for non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2021 are much smaller, with the net increase over fiscal year 2020 amounting to only $5 billion. The full House passed this legislative package late Thursday while the Senate will likely pass it next week. Once this legislation is enacted, and with President Trump’s full-throated endorsement on Twitter that is expected to occur, the Senate will need to move swiftly in September to pass all twelve of its spending bills, which it had been holding in abeyance until a deal on overall spending was reached. Once the Senate approves its versions of these spending bills, which will hopefully include robust funding for higher education programs, horse-trading with the House will begin. While the spending caps are high, they are not quite as high as the House presumed when it approved its appropriations bills earlier this year. This means that some of the big higher education increases, like increases to Pell grants, work-study, and GEAR Up/TRIO in the House’s approved version of Labor HHS Education spending may be reduced in final legislation depending on how far off the levels are from Senate’s version. In order to avert a government shutdown––which has no doubt been made a bit easier due to the budget deal––all of this must be completed before the federal fiscal year deadline of September 30th, when federal funds run out. Now that there is a caps deal, we must keep pressure on the Senate to provide high levels of funding for higher education programs.