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Biden confronts political pressure to extend pause in loan payments

Washington, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) As the May 1 deadline to resume federal student loan payments is drawing near, President Joe Biden faces pressure from Democrats and debt relief advocates to keep loan payments on pause at least through the midterm elections.

According to local media, advocates for student debt relief argued that allowing the loan payments to resume ahead of the midterms could depress turnout of the Democratic base, especially as the US president has been unable to deliver on key legislative priorities – such as his Build Back Better agenda and voting rights – and as inflation concerns continue to grip the country, NBC News reported.

Allowing payments to resume, some Democrats argued, could come at a political cost for the party as it tries to champion its slim majorities in the House and the Senate.

Democrats win when Democrats deliver, said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass). “Failing to extend the pause on student loan payments and fulfill his promise to cancel student debt would be unconscionable.”

Polling data and research show, according to Democrats, that the pause is popular among voters and that failing to extend it would negatively affect Democrats in November.

Advocates who have been in conversation with the White House describe administration officials as reluctant to endorse another extension but keenly aware that allowing it to expire this close to the midterms could backfire.

A White House official said Friday that the administration didn’t have “any decisions to preview yet” about the payment pause but stressed that Americans haven’t been required to “pay a single dime” in federal student loans since Joe Biden took office.

Data for Progress, a liberal think tank that regularly shares its polling with the White House, found in a survey last month that 59% of likely voters either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” extending the payment pause through the end of the year, while 33% “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” an extension. Another survey, from the Student Debt Crisis Center this month, also found that 93% of borrowers say they aren’t prepared to resume payments on May 1.


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