WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday he was “seriously considering” canceling additional federal student loan debt and would make a decision within a month.
“I’m looking at facing debt reduction,” Biden told reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
The comments came days after Biden had a private meeting with Democratic lawmakers who pressed him on the issue. One of the lawmakers, Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-California, said afterwards that Biden revealed he was exploring the possibility.
However, Biden signaled in his Thursday remarks that he would not go as far as some activists want, saying a $50,000 debt forgiveness was not on the cards. He did not give a figure for what he was considering.
“I am carefully considering whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness,” he said. “And I’ll have an answer on that in the next few weeks.”
During his campaign, Biden said he wanted to “immediately cancel” at least $10,000 in student debt per person. He has so far repeatedly extended a pause to force borrowers to repay their loans, a moratorium that was put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. .
While activists have been encouraged by their growing influence on the issue, some have said they fear Biden is not going far enough.
“President Biden, we agree that we should not forgive $50,000 in student loan debt. We should cancel everything,” said Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division. “$50,000 was just the bottom line.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden is still considering tying debt relief to borrowers’ income levels, an idea he has floated in the past. She said it was “definitely something he would watch”.
She dismissed criticism from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah and others that debt relief amounts to a political giveaway.
Biden’s goal, Psaki said, is to “continue to deliver relief to the people who need it most, to help people have some extra breathing room.”