- 19 GOP lawmakers said Biden’s student-loan forgiveness could hurt military recruitment.
- They said the promise of free education through the military might no longer be a strong incentive.
- Many Republicans have pushed back on Biden’s debt relief, with some trying to stop it from happening.
Republican lawmakers are worried that President Joe Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan will disincentive Americans from joining the military.
Last week, 19 GOP lawmakers wrote a letter to Biden expressing concerns with his recently announced $20,000 in debt cancellation for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year. They said there are “unintended consequences” with Biden’s one-time blanket relief when it comes to military recruiting, especially because it undermines the military’s ability to use free education as a recruiting tool.
“By forgiving such a wide swath of loans for borrowers, you are removing any leverage the Department of Defense maintained as one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for a higher education,” the lawmakers wrote. “We recognize the loan forgiveness programs have issues of their own, but this remains a top recruiting incentive.”
Rep. Don Bacon, one of the cosigners on the letter, also wrote on Twitter on Monday that Biden’s “deeply flawed and unfair” student-loan forgiveness plan will impose challenges “at the precise moment we are experiencing a crisis in military recruiting.”
—Rep. Don Bacon 🇺🇸 (@RepDonBacon) September 19, 2022
As the Republicans noted in the letter, Americans might choose to enlist in the military to receive a free education during or after completion of service — a benefit first established in the GI Bill to help service members pay for college, graduate school, and training programs. But they said that at the end of last month, the Army had reached just 66% of its recruiting goal for the year, and Biden’s student-loan forgiveness will “exacerbate” recruiting challenges. To that end, they requested the White House provide information on whether military recruitment was considered when Biden decided on his debt relief policy, along with how the administration plans to assist with recruiting following loan forgiveness.
This is just the latest attempt by Republican lawmakers to push back on Biden’s debt relief. Since the plan was announced, many Republicans slammed it as costly and unfair to taxpayers, even saying it’s illegal because the president does not have the authority to wipe out millions of debt balances without Congressional approval. Some have gone so far as to threaten pursuing legal action to attempt to block the relief in court.
Still, Democratic lawmakers and the White House have not caved to the GOP threats. Biden’s administration has maintained it has the legal authority to cancel student debt provided in the HEROES Act of 2003, which allows modification of balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19 — and it plans to continue rolling out the relief, with applications for debt cancellation set to become available in early October.