President Donald Trump talks to reporters. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
President Donald Trump said he is preparing executive action as soon as Friday on student loan payments, as emergency relief for nearly 40 million federal student loan borrowers is set to expire in eight weeks.
Trump previously said he was eyeing options for extending the suspension of monthly student loan payments. But the president had not indicated until Thursday whether he would take executive action or work with Congress on legislation to that end.
“Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options,” Trump tweeted.
The president told reporters later Thursday that he would “probably” sign the executive orders Friday or possibly Saturday morning.
"They’re being drawn now," Trump said, tying the threat of executive action to the ongoing talks in Congress over coronavirus relief. "We’ll see what happens. It’s possible we’ll make a deal, but it’s also possible we won’t."
It’s not clear what the president’s executive action on student loans would entail. Trump in March unilaterally suspended interest on federally held student loans. The CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), then codified that policy into law in March and took it a step further, automatically suspending monthly payments.
Trump’s threat of executive action comes as negotiations remain stalled on Capitol Hill over another economic rescue package to address the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Congressional Democrats have proposed expanding student loan relief to cover more borrowers and extending the protections for at least another year. Those benefits are otherwise scheduled to expire on Sept. 30.
Senate Republicans’ stimulus plan, S. 4320 (116), released last month would allow the CARES Act student loan relief to expire, instead proposing an overhaul of the government’s existing income-based repayment options.
But there have been increasing calls from Republicans in recent days to extend the student loan relief granted under the Cares Act this spring.
Three Republican attorneys general on Wednesday signed onto a letter urging congressional leaders to expand the relief to more borrowers and consider further extending the benefits beyond September.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also backed an extension of the CARES Act student loan relief earlier this week, saying on the Senate floor that the benefits had been popular with his constituents.
“With so much economic uncertainty, we can’t allow that provision to expire,” Cornyn said on Monday. “Student loan debt is a real and growing problem in our country, and families should never be in the situation where they’re sacrificing their basic needs just to make those student loan payments, especially during the time of a global emergency.”