As the Senate continues to debate the HEALS Act in hopes that it will pass a bill before their Aug. 7 recess, there is one thing that the GOP-led bill doesn’t include. As of Monday, the HEALS Act does not include any student loan assistance.
Granted, the bill is still being debated, with several of the provisions following the lead of the CARES Act. Although, that stimulus package from March put a hiatus on Student Loan payments while freezing interest. As Forbes reports, Republicans want to restart payments and will try to utilize the HEALS Act to do so. What debate among lawmakers has taken place has mostly been about the amount of aid to give in a stimulus check. However, several proposals have been put forth to extend the student loan hiatus, ranging from several months to a full calendar year.
There have been additional proposals that go even further. Senator Elizabeth Warren and likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden have pushed for $10,000 in student debt forgiveness, while other Democrats in the House want a full $30,000 forgiven per borrower. Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey have proposed an additional bill that would give individuals the $2,000 and then another $2,000 for every dependent, totaling up to $6,000. The HEROES Act, which the House passed back in May, would extend the suspension on student loan payments and interest through Sept. 30, 2021. However, it has a much narrower plan for student loan forgiveness, and even that would likely have to be negotiated down for Republicans to pass the bill.
That idea hasn’t gained much traction with Republicans, however. Senator Lamar Alexander has said that the Republican bill will include his “new” income-driven repayment plan he released earlier this week in place of another payment suspension. Some think that Alexander’s proposal doesn’t go far enough, including Kyle Southern, Policy and Advocacy Director for Higher Education and Workforce at the advocacy organization, Young Invincibles.
“Senator Alexander’s proposal does little to nothing to alleviate the real strains people were already facing before the pandemic — particularly borrowers of color,” Southern told the outlet. “Rather than pursue this proposal, members of Congress should, at the very least, extend and expand the CARES Act automatic forbearance period while the country continues to navigate dual public health and economic crises.”