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Washington Examiner: New group targets vulnerable Republicans over Supreme Court student debt ruling

July 6, 2023

Julia Johnson

A new organization focused on student debt cancellation is targeting vulnerable Republican lawmakers in states such as New York and California.

Protect Borrowers Action, which launched on Thursday in response to the Supreme Court blocking President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan last week, plans to mobilize in the districts of 13 Republican members of Congress.

“Working people burdened with student debt are mad as hell over the hypocrisy of treating conservative billionaires one way and those striving for the middle class another,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a press release. “Right-wing politicians need to hear loud and clear that when they put the interests of conservative billionaires above the financial welfare of their own constituents, they will be held accountable.”

“Gone are the days where politicians get a pass for being complicit in the student debt crisis plaguing our communities,” she added.  According to the release, AFT is supporting the nonprofit group’s goal.


The organization is focusing on lawmakers in California, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

The 13 House lawmakers they are hoping to unseat are Reps. Kevin Kiley (R-CA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), John James (R-MI), Don Bacon (R-NE), Nick LaLota (R-NY), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), and Scott Perry (R-PA), who is notably chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

The Washington Examiner reached out to each representative regarding the challenge on student debt.

A spokesman for Chavez-DeRemer told the Washington Examiner in a statement, “While the congresswoman believes anyone who has taken out a loan in their name has an obligation to repay that loan, she also recognizes that our current student loan system is failing students. That’s why one of the first bills she helped lead was the bipartisan Student Loan Disclosure Transparency Act, which would help borrowers more easily understand the true overall cost of their education. She has also urged Education Secretary Cardona to make federal Pell grants more widely available to students pursuing technical careers. She remains committed to helping students and addressing the soaring cost of education.”

“As both President Biden and former Speaker Pelosi have previously acknowledged, Biden did not have the authority to take unilateral action, and his executive order violated the U.S. Constitution. Regardless of how much is spent on political smears by radical left dark money groups, congressman Kevin Kiley will never forsake his oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Kiley communications director and senior adviser Tyler Tate said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

In a statement provided to the Washington Examiner by a spokesperson for his campaign, Bacon pointed to legislation he is sponsoring that he says “will address the failure of the student loan program by providing a fair, responsible path back to repayment for 40 million borrowers.”

He further reiterated his opposition to canceling student loan debt altogether, citing the $32 trillion federal deficit.

The Cook Political Report rates the seats of Calvert, Steel, Boebert, James, and Bacon as “lean Republican,” while Kiley, LaLota, and Perry’s districts are rated likely Republican. However, the seats of D’Esposito, Lawler, Williams, and Chavez-DeRemer are in a more vulnerable position, with their seats rated as Republican toss-ups.

Americans owe $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loans, according to data compiled by Forbes, for an average of $28,950 per borrower.

Biden’s relief plan would have forgiven debt for individuals making less than $125,000 and married couples making less than $250,000. Pell grant recipients would have been eligible for $20,000 forgiven from their federal loans, while nonrecipients would have been eligible for $10,000 forgiven.

PBA Executive Director Mike Pierce shared with the Washington Examiner that the organization’s team is made up of leaders from the Student Borrower Protection Center who have “worked for years to bring the issue to the forefront and help shape the administration’s response to the student debt crisis.”

They further led the outside legal defense for Biden’s student debt forgiveness program and coordinated several amicus briefs defending it.

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