Underwood Leads 91 Members in Effort Urging President Trump to Extend Critical Relief for 41 Million Student Loan Borrowers
WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) led 91 members of Congress in urging President Trump to further extend critical student loan relief included in the CARES Act. In March, Congress passed the bipartisan CARES Act, which paused loan payments, interest accrual, and involuntary collections on federal student loans. These provisions were extended through executive authority by President Trump in August, but are set to expire on December 31, 2020. As the coronavirus pandemic worsens and continues to place an economic strain on millions of Americans, the members urge President Trump to extend this urgently needed relief for student loan borrowers until the economy has stabilized and the crisis brought on pandemic has subsided.
On Monday, Underwood will introduce the Pandemic Accommodation to Support Students (PASS) Act in the House of Representatives to extend the CARES Act provisions on student loan relief.
“The extension of relief from student loan payments has helped those facing unemployment or reduced hours from this financial burden and allowed those who have remained employed to use those extra funds to stimulate the economy. The continued relief has kept borrowers from defaulting or becoming delinquent on their student loan payments and helped to improve their credit scores. It is imperative to continue the pause in payments and interest accrual past December 31, 2020 for the nearly 41 million Americans with federal student loans,” the Members wrote.
In addition to Underwood, the following Representatives joined the letter: Susan Davis; Tim Ryan; Gwen Moore; Adam Smith; Ted Deutch; Madeleine Dean; Vicente Gonzalez ; Rashida Tlaib; Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.; Wm. Lacy Clay; Thomas R. Suozzi; Katie Porter; Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan; Peter A. DeFazio; Jim Cooper; A. Donald McEachin ; Joe Neguse; Barbara Lee; Nydia M. Velázquez; John B. Larson; Julia Brownley; André Carson; John Garamendi; Danny K. Davis; James P. McGovern; Tom Malinowski; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Josh Harder; Jan Schakowsky; Ed Case; Kim Schrier, M.D.; Debbie Dingell; Jesús G. "Chuy" García; Seth Moulton; Alma S. Adams, Ph.D.; Dina Titus; Jimmy Panetta; Joseph D. Morelle; Chrissy Houlahan; Mark Pocan; Suzanne Bonamici; Bennie G. Thompson ; Jerry McNerney; Ro Khanna; Peter Welch; Mike Doyle; Mark DeSaulnier; Cedric L. Richmond; Bill Foster; Marcy Kaptur; Robin L. Kelly; Mark Takano; Brendan F. Boyle; Raúl M. Grijalva ; Steve Cohen; Grace Meng; Alan Lowenthal; Stephanie Murphy; Darren Soto; Doris Matsui; Bill Pascrell, Jr.; Andy Levin; Pramila Jayapal; Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr.; Mary Gay Scanlon; David E. Price; Sean Casten; Haley M. Stevens; Marcia L. Fudge ; Donald M. Payne, Jr.; Zoe Lofgren; David Trone; Matt A. Cartwright; Katherine Clark; Emanuel Cleaver, II; Jackie Speier; Cheri Bustos ; Bobby L. Rush; Lucy McBath; Colin Z. Allred; Rosa DeLauro; John P. Sarbanes; David N. Cicilline; Ted W. Lieu; Joaquin Castro; Diana DeGette; Ann McLane Kuster; Jahana Hayes; Carolyn B. Maloney; Raja Krishnamoorthi; and Bradley S. Schneider.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below.
November 20, 2020
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Dear President Trump:
We write to urge you to use your executive powers to extend the pause on payments, interest accrual, and debt collection for approximately 41 million student loan borrowers past December 31, 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and economic uncertainty continues, student loan borrowers urgently need support from your Administration to access continued relief.
Earlier this year, through executive action, you suspended interest on federally held student loans and allowed borrowers to opt-in to forbearance. Congress then took decisive action through the CARES Act to codify the suspension of interest accrual and added automatic suspension of loan payments and involuntary collections. These actions provided immediate financial and emotional relief to Americans facing precarious economic futures. In August, you took further executive action to extend the expiring relief through the end of the year. In justifying this action, you stated in the memorandum that, “It is therefore appropriate to extend this policy until such time that the economy has stabilized, schools have re-opened, and the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.”
As coronavirus cases increase across the country and Americans face continued economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, your rationale for extending relief to student loan borrowers is even more relevant today. Health experts warn that the pandemic will most likely worsen in the winter months and have urged state and local leaders to take necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. This means that unemployment may continue to hover at 6.9 percent or grow, leaving student loan borrowers without options for employment in the near future.
Further, research shows that the relief Congress and your Administration provided directly helped millions of student loan borrowers. According to a recent survey from the Pew Charitable Trusts, 58 percent of borrowers who reported benefiting from paused payments said they would struggle to make payments on their student loans if those payments resumed in the next month. The extension of relief from student loan payments has helped those facing unemployment or reduced hours from this financial burden and allowed those who have remained employed to use those extra funds to stimulate the economy. The continued relief has kept borrowers from defaulting or becoming delinquent on their student loan payments and helped to improve their credit scores.
It is imperative to continue the pause in payments and interest accrual past December 31, 2020 for the nearly 41 million Americans with federal student loans. We commend your Administration’s past actions to extend this benefit and urge you to take executive action again to continue to provide millions of Americans with needed relief.