EXCLUSIVE: Senate minority whip John Thune, R-S.D., will revive a piece of legislation originally introduced last year to prevent working Americans from bearing the brunt of President Biden's decision to suspend federal student loan repayments, which has cost the federal government billions of dollars.
The measure — which has been slightly updated and named the Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act of 2023 — was originally introduced by Thune and a coalition of Republican senators last April.
The bill being reintroduced Thursday would prohibit the president from canceling "the outstanding balances, or a portion of the balances, on covered [student] loans due to the COVID-19 national emergency or any other national emergency."
"Taxpayers, especially working families, should not be responsible for bearing the costs associated with President Biden’s federal student loan suspension," Thune told Fox News Digital. "It’s incredibly unfair to those who never incurred student debt because they didn’t attend college in the first place or because they either worked their way through school or their family pinched pennies and planned for higher education."
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"It’s time for borrowers to resume repayment of their student loans, and I’m proud to lead this common-sense legislation that would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending these loans in perpetuity," Thune added.
Biden's decision to suspend federal student loan payments, according to the bill, comes at a high cost and has "inflationary impacts."
"The unilateral payment pause on Federal student loans has cost more than $160,000,000,000," the bill states. "The unilateral payment pause on Federal student loans has inflationary impacts. The individuals benefiting the most from the payment pause continued by the Executive Branch are doctors, who receive 11 times the benefit of bachelor’s degree recipients and 16 times the benefit of associate’s degree recipients."
Other Republican senators — including Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Alabama Sen. Katie Britt, and North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer — joined Thune in introducing the bill.
Federal student loan payments were first paused in May 2020 under former President Donald Trump. But as the economy exited the pandemic, Biden extended that pause multiple times after taking office, to criticism from Republicans.
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Last November, the White House announced it would be extending the pause on federal student loan payments through the end of June 2023 in an effort to "alleviate uncertainty" for borrowers as the Biden administration battles at the Supreme Court to put Biden’s student loan handout into effect.
Biden announced in August that he will hand out $10,000 of federal student loan debt relief for certain borrowers making less than $125,000 per year and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Part of the basis for the plan rests on the ongoing declaration of a public health emergency, which the Biden administration said last week will expire in May.
The president said defended the move late last year, saying he is "confident" that his "student debt relief plan is legal."
"But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it," Biden wrote in a tweet at the time. He announced then that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was "extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term."
The announcement of the payment pause extension came after Biden vowed last August to end the COVID-era student loan payment pause on Dec. 31, 2022.
Fox News' Brooke Singman and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.