House Democrats didn’t garner enough support in today’s vote to override President Donald Trump’s first-ever domestic policy veto.
With only six Republicans joining them, the Democrats were unable to have the two-thirds majority needed to override the presidential veto of House Joint Resolution 76. Their effort failed in the House by a 238–173 vote.
The House joint resolution, sponsored by Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), would have overturned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s 2019 rewriting of the Obama-era standards for loan forgiveness for students who claim to be defrauded by for-profit schools, such as defunct education chain Corinthian College.
The original Obama “borrower defense” rule in 2016 adopted a rather broad definition of “fraud” in college education, allowing students to apply to have their loans wiped out if they thought the school they went to failed to deliver the education it promised.
DeVos rewrote the borrower defense rule in 2019 and directed the Education Department to calculate how much the defrauded students benefited from their education and how much of their debt, if any, can be discharged. The calculation is based on a complex formula that compares the median salary of the defrauded students to those of students who attended similar programs at other schools. The defrauded students will receive relief if their earnings are at a deficit.
Under the new standards, most allegedly defrauded borrowers only qualify for partial relief.
This overhauled system, according to DeVos, “treats students fairly and ensures that taxpayers who did not go to college or who faithfully paid off their student loans do not shoulder student loan costs for those who didn’t suffer harm.”
Trump on May 29 vetoed the House joint resolution opposing the rule, saying in his veto message that the rule provides “needed transparency to both students and schools,” while accusing the previous administration of promoting a “regulatory environment that produced precipitous school closures and stranded students.”
“H.J. Res. 76 is a misguided resolution that would increase costs for American students and undermine their ability to make choices about their education in order to best meet their needs,” he said. “For these reasons, it is my duty to return H.J. Res. 76 to the House of Representatives without my approval.”
Lee decried the veto at the time, arguing that DeVos’ rule would “weaken both protections for students and oversight of shady schools, while forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for the fraudulent actions of a few bad actors.”
“President Trump sent a message to the American people that he cares more about enriching predatory schools than protecting defrauded students and veterans,” she said.