Biden saying pandemic is ‘over’ may jeopardize student debt relief, Covid Cash

  • Biden declared the pandemic “over” during a 60 Minutes interview, potentially jeopardizing two of his main goals.
  • Republicans and Democrats are in a months-long standoff over covid testing funds.
  • Republicans can also seize on Biden’s remarks to challenge his efforts to deliver student debt relief.

Financial assistance for millions of Americans hinges on COVID-19 existing as a national emergency — and President Joe Biden just declared it “over.” This could threaten student debt relief and future coronavirus health funding.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday on CBS News, Biden all but said the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind Americans more than two years after the economy’s initial shutdown.

“We still have a problem with covid,” he said. “We are still working on it a lot, but the pandemic is over.”

Remarks suggesting the emergency is over may jeopardize the Biden administration’s dual goals of student debt relief and coronavirus aid.

The White House has struggled to secure more funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines due to fierce Republican opposition. Its efforts to secure at least $22 billion in additional coronavirus aid have been stalled for more than six months, and it is unlikely to be included in any short-term funding bill that will pass into law. by the end of September and intended to keep government open until December. .

“It already seemed pretty unlikely that Congress would fund vaccinations, testing, and treatment, and now it’s even less likely,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told AFP. Insider. “It’s hard to go to Congress and say you need emergency funding, when you’re suggesting there’s no more urgency.”

Additionally, the Biden administration is set to renew a 90-day public health emergency declaration in mid-October at least once more. This designation has enabled approximately 16 million low-income Americans to obtain health insurance through Medicaid over the past two years. But Republicans will likely increase pressure on the White House to lift it, arguing it’s time for the United States to get back to normal.

Some Republicans seize the opportunity to castigate the White House. Part of Biden’s legal justification for providing $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower hinges on the ongoing pandemic. “Emergency powers, vaccination mandates and requests for COVID funding should be rescinded TODAY!” Rep. Jim Banks of Ohio wrote on Twitter Monday.

“Joe Biden last night was the Republicans’ best messenger,” a senior Senate GOP official told Insider on condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “He admitted what we’ve been saying for a while that COVID is over.”

“The President’s comments last night kind of reinforced what a lot of Senate Republicans believe, which is that there is no COVID emergency and there is no need for billions in additional spending. “said the Republican aide, adding that it could also strengthen the case for a future lawsuit to block the Biden administration from providing student debt relief.

Top Senate Republicans have begun expressing even more skepticism about the Biden administration’s demand for more money. “If it’s over, I wouldn’t suspect they need more money,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told CNN’s Manu Raju.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The Biden administration has said it has the authority to implement its one-time $20,000 loan forgiveness policy under the HEROES Act of 2003, which gives the education secretary the ability to waive or to change student loan balances in the context of a national emergency, such as COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE

That legal framework involved rescinding a memo from former President Donald Trump’s Education Department that concluded the authority did not exist to write off broader student debt, his Secretary of State. education Betsy DeVos declaring that this decision was “100% illegal”.

While Republican lawmakers argued that Biden’s action was an excess of that authority, the president saying the pandemic was over was all some of them needed to back up their claims that this broad cancellation of the debt is illegal.

But some proponents of debt relief don’t quite see it that way. Persis Yu, counsel at the Student Borrower Protection Center, told Insider that the authority for debt relief under the HEROES Act is likely still valid because Americans are still recovering financially from the pandemic.

“The HEROES Act gives the administration sweeping authority to mitigate hardship that federal student loan recipients may experience due to national emergencies,” Yu said. “The economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt by millions of borrowers, many of whom have lost their jobs or may be feeling the effects of a long COVID.”

There may be other legal options for administration even outside of this pandemic emergency framework. Yu added that the power to enact general relief also exists under the Higher Education Act, which gives the education secretary the ability to compromise or waive balances. It is also a provision that the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School notified Senator Elizabeth Warren in defense of blanket debt forgiveness.

The Ministry of Education did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, previously told reporters that “legal authority gives the secretary the ability to ensure that the pandemic and the emergency do not cause net financial harm to these people.”

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