The House Rules Committee on Monday introduced a bill allowing borrowers to break spousal student loans, potentially making hundreds more Americans eligible for loan forgiveness.
Democrats on the committee also focused on how the bill will finally allow individuals to leave the program in the event of divorce or domestic violence.
“Victims of domestic violence or economic abuse should never have to pay their abuser’s debts,” said Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “Closing this loophole is just common sense.”
The bill was defeated by the committee 7-3 and is expected to get a floor vote on Tuesday.
Nearly 15,000 people combined their student loans under the program between 1993 and 2006, with couples agreeing to be held responsible for each other’s debts, according to The Washington Post.
But there was no way to break up joint debt under the program, leaving some people to take on the debt of their exes — or their abusers in some cases.
About 770 loans have yet to be repaid, the Post reported.
The Common Consolidation Loan Separation Act would also make program participants eligible for the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Program before the October 31 application deadline, as well as for the recently announced Student Loan Forgiveness Program. by President Biden, offering up to $20,000 in forgiveness to federal borrowers. less than $125,000.
“This bill comes at a critical time when many borrowers are seeking relief under President Biden’s recently announced loan forgiveness program,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)
“Simply put, by advancing the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, we’re giving borrowers additional ways to seek loan relief.”
GOP committee members expressed a number of concerns about the bill, including whether it could be signed into law in time for participants to apply for pardon programs, and what they said was the lack of details of how the debt would be passed on to both parties if the loans We separated.
Representative Virginia Foxx (RN.C.) proposed an amendment addressing those concerns, which was defeated 7-3, with Democrats rejecting GOP concerns.
“This amendment is meant to derail a bill to help victims of domestic violence, which it will do,” McGovern said. “It means that nothing is done. This means there will be no relief, and I think that would be a huge mistake.
The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on June 15.