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Protesters demand Biden cancel student debt

The Too Much Talent Band and local activists hold a protest outside the White House urging President Joe Biden to cancel student debt on March 15, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)

Biden Tells Hispanic Caucus He's Exploring Options to Cancel Student Debt

"This is a sign that we are winning," said the Student Debt Crisis Center.

Jessica Corbett

Advocates and Democrats who support sweeping student debt cancellation welcomed reporting Tuesday that President Joe Biden is exploring options for loan forgiveness after extending a pandemic-related pause on payments earlier this month.

"This is what happens when you fight."

Multiple outlets, including CBS News and The Washington Post, reported that during a Monday meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden repeatedly signaled he was considering canceling at least some federal student debt.

"The president is changing his message on student debt cancellation. This is a sign that we are winning," said the Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC).

Referencing one of the reports, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday that "today would be a great day for President Biden to #CancelStudentDebt."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, concurred, tweeting: "This is great news. Let's get it done!"

Debt cancellation supporters doubled down on their demands in early April when Biden extended the moratorium on student loan repayments through the end of August. Polling has consistently shown voters, particularly younger Americans, support canceling at least some educational debt.

One unnamed lawmaker who attended the Monday meeting told CBS that "they're looking at different options on what they can do. On forgiving it entirely. That was our request."

According to the Post:

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) initially raised the issue with Biden during the meeting. In an interview, Cárdenas said he first asked the president to extend the moratorium past its current August 31 expiration date, and Biden responded with a smile, "Well, Tony, I've extended it every time."

Cárdenas said he then urged the president to issue an executive order to relieve at least $10,000 in student loan debts per person. In making his case, Cárdenas said he told Biden that Latinos in the United States who are carrying student debt still have more than 80 percent of their bill due after more than a dozen years.

Biden was "incredibly positive" about the idea, Cárdenas said.

The newspaper added that "another lawmaker in attendance, Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), said Biden's response to lawmakers' requests to cancel at least some student debt was essentially that he would like to do it sooner rather than later."

Uncertainty over what Biden—who only campaigned on canceling at least $10,000 for federal borrowers—may do to address the student debt crisis comes as Democrats face a looming battle for control of Congress in this year's midterm elections.

SDCC executive director Cody Hounanian told CBS that "as far as the president going out and talking about student loan cancellation with different groups, I do think that's a very good sign."

"I think the president is starting to recognize that student debt cancellation is very popular," Hounanian added. "It's very popular with specific groups of voters that the president needs to win for this upcoming election, and the fact that he's using debt cancellation as a tool from which to talk to these communities, to me that's a little bit of a change."

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