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Biden to meet with Democratic senators on student loan debt

<i>Leah Millis/Reuters</i><br/>President Joe Biden will meet with Democratic senators at the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue of student loan debt
Leah Millis/Reuters
President Joe Biden will meet with Democratic senators at the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue of student loan debt

By Arlette Saenz, CNN

President Joe Biden will meet with Democratic senators at the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue of student loan debt, a source familiar with the meeting said.

The President is expected to huddle with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Schumer and Warren were seen arriving at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre earlier Wednesday said Biden has not made a decision about student debt forgiveness but noted the President “values” the perspectives of senators working on the issue and “looks forward to the discussion this afternoon,” when asked about a potential meeting with Warnock.

Late last month, Biden said he was “considering dealing with some debt reduction” and would have an answer on the matter “in the next couple of weeks.”

Biden has been under pressure to fulfill a campaign promise to deal with student loan debt. He signaled to lawmakers at a White House meeting last month he would take steps to address the problem.

Since taking office, Biden has taken several actions to provide student loan relief. He’s repeatedly extended a pause on federal student loan repayments, an action which was initially issued during the Trump administration to help borrowers struggling economically due to the pandemic. Most recently, the White House announced the pause would be extended through August 31.

During a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in April, Biden appeared “positive” about the idea of forgiving at least $10,000 in Americans’ student loan debt but did not make a definite commitment on the matter, according to California Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán.

Barragán told CNN that Biden and the Democrats had discussed the scope of such a plan — including whether it would include public and private institutions — but that the White House made no commitment nor specified a time frame for taking such a step. Her comments on the discussion came after reports that Biden strongly indicated during the meeting that he would take action on the issue through executive authority. But reporting that Biden had relayed a decision at the CHC meeting, Barragán said, “was news to me.”

Some key Democratic lawmakers, including Schumer and Warren, have called on Biden to broadly cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower. Biden has said he would not consider that number.

“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction. I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction,” Biden said at the White House after unveiling new funding for Ukraine in April.

The White House has long indicated that the President would support action by Congress to eliminate $10,000 in student loan debt forgiveness for borrowers, but Biden hasn’t made clear whether he would use executive powers to immediately provide that mass debt relief. But it’s unlikely Congress, where Democrats have a slim margin, has the votes to pass legislation broadly canceling debt.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Maegan Vazquez and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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