Warren has long pushed the Education Department to more expansively interpret its powers to provide debt relief to student loan borrowers.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Tuesday that she would take executive action to cancel most student loans, vowing to sidestep Congress to accomplish a progressive goal that faces stiff opposition from Republicans and even some moderate Democrats.
Warren detailed a sweeping new strategy to provide student debt relief to 42 million Americans on “day one” of her administration — which she said could be achieved through a presidential directive under existing law. Both Warren and her chief progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have advocated major student loan debt relief plans but Warren took that campaign promise a step further as Democrats head for a clash Tuesday night in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses.
The Education Department “already has broad legal authority to cancel student debt, and we can’t afford to wait for Congress to act,” Warren wrote in a Medium post.
Warren’s new plan for executive action would require the Education Department to drastically expand its interpretation of the power it has to wipe out federal student loans under the Higher Education Act.
The Education Department has long had the power to “compromise” or waive student loan debt, but it has mostly done so only in limited cases to write off or settle the debts of defaulted borrowers who are unlikely to repay.
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