Republicans call for investigation into potential White House staff disputes over student loan plan

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EXCLUSIVE: White House Republicans are demanding an ethics investigation into the White House’s proposed student loan forgiveness plan, which they say is an illegal ‘unfair transfer of wealth’ by hard-working Americans and also a conflict of interest for Biden administration appointees working on policy.

The most recent White House proposal would forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers with annual household incomes below $300,000.

In a letter Wednesday to the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Emory Rounds, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky. , challenge the policy.

“This policy is an unfair transfer of wealth from hard-working Americans to highly educated, upper-middle-class graduates who borrowed from taxpayers to earn their degree and, in some cases, multiple degrees,” the lawmakers wrote.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: United States President Joe Biden speaks on inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the campus of the White House on May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 10: United States President Joe Biden speaks on inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the campus of the White House on May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
((Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images))

“In addition to the substantial and negative ramifications of this unlawful action, we are particularly concerned that this policy may have been enacted by White House staffers who stand to benefit financially from the decision, particularly given recent reports that White House appointees owe millions in student loan debt Public servants should never use their office to enrich themselves unfairly, and such behavior would directly violate the ethical commitment that President Biden has made. work for all political appointees, ”they continue.

FALLING STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING RATES FOR 5 YEAR VARIABLE RATE LOANS

Comer and Foxx ask Rounds for help determining if White House staffers have a conflict of interest or if their families could benefit from Biden’s policies they are currently working to implement.

“Presumably, political appointees with outstanding student loans are included in the reported student loan forgiveness program the Biden administration is considering undertaking, raising concerns about whether appointees with conflicting of interest prompted student loan cancellation to receive a financial windfall,” they wrote.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona deliver remarks at an event for National and State Teachers of the Year 2022 in the East Room of the House Blanche on April 27, 2022 in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 27: U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona deliver remarks at an event for National and State Teachers of the Year 2022 in the East Room of the House Blanche on April 27, 2022 in Washington, DC
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Republicans cite a recent report that found one in five White House staffers who completed a financial disclosure form have student loans that are still being repaid. The group’s total is nearly $4.7 million in outstanding loans. That number is likely to be higher since junior staff or appointees below a certain pay grade are not required to disclose their finances, lawmakers point out.

“Public servants should not be responsible for developing policies from which they could benefit financially,” the letter said.

BIDEN’S STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PLAN: EVERYTHING WE KNOW SO FAR

Foxx and Comer say this “gross abuse of power” by employees would “explicitly violate President Biden’s ethical commitment.”

They are asking the Director of Government Ethics to provide them with a list of all Biden administration employees who worked on the student loan forgiveness policy and any documents and communications that would reveal whether those staff members worked. to advance policy.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Biden would visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next month.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Biden would visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next month.
((AP Photo/Susan Walsh))

In addition, they require signed copies of all ethical commitments from these individuals and any ethical waivers that may have been granted to staff working on the policy.

The Department of Education recently announced that it would forgive $5.8 billion in full loan discharges for 560,000 borrowers who attended a campus owned or operated by Corinthian Colleges, representing the “largest loan discharge unique” in the department’s history.

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That figure comes on top of an already solid $25 billion in student loan relief under Biden. About 43 million federal borrowers still owe a total of $1.6 trillion in college debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.

The US Office of Government Ethics declined to comment on the letter.

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