A second stimulus check may be on the way soon, and many people are hoping it will revive one of the biggest factors lost from the first round: student loan debt forgiveness. Back in March, one of the biggest compromises made in the CARES Act was to remove a measure that would have forgiven thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Now, many Americans are pressuring their elected officials to add this clause into whatever passes next.
The United States Senate is expected to consider options for a new coronavirus stimulus package when they return from vacation on July 17. To start with, they have the HEROES Act — passed by the U.S. House of Representatives back in May — though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate would be more likely to pass something they write themselves. That leaves it up to legislators to put student loan debt forgiveness on the table for this bill. Americans are doing everything in their power to raise the chances of that happening.
Early versions of the CARES Act would have forgiven up to $10,000 of student loan debt from any American taxpayer. This clause was popular among lawmakers and citizens alike, but it was one of the things that had to be cut to get the bill pushed through quickly. It did, however, suspend payments and interest on federal student loans through September.
As it is written now, the HEROES Act would extend the suspension on student loan payments and interest through Sept. 30, 2021, according to a report by Forbes. However, it has a much narrower plan for student loan forgiveness, and even that would likely have to be negotiated down for Republicans to pass the bill.
Still, the call for student loan forgiveness as a form of economic relief is growing louder. Last month, Former Obama administration Education Secretary John King told Congress that student loan debt cancellation should be a high priority for them.
The idea is not partisan, either. President Donald Trump himself has reportedly considered ideas for widespread student loan debt forgiveness. This was especially true early on in the 2020 Democratic Primary when Trump thought he might be competing with Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders. Trump was also a vocal supporter of the parts of the CARES Act that dealt with student loan payment suspension.
Still, the real obstacle to these measures is McConnell and the Republican-led Senate. McConnell has personally stated that he is opposed to student loan debt forgiveness, and to a second stimulus check. Analysts believe that McConnell and other senators are likely facing pressure from the White House itself to pass a stimulus package, with the belief that it will help Republicans gain re-election.