House Republicans Fail to Overturn Biden’s Veto of Debt Relief Plan

House Republicans Fail to Overturn Biden’s Veto of Debt Relief Plan
President Joe Biden delivers remarks following a briefing on Interstate-95 highway emergency repair and reconstruction efforts, in Philadelphia, Pa., on June 17, 2023. (Julia Nikhinson/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

The attempt by House Republicans to overturn President Joe Biden’s veto of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution aimed at nullifying the president’s debt relief plan has failed with a vote of 221–206.

To successfully override Biden’s veto, it would have needed a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate, both of which initially passed the resolution.

Biden’s proposal would see the cancellation of up to $20,000 of student debt for around 37 million people—roughly costing taxpayers half a trillion dollars over the next decade.

Republican lawmakers argued the plan doesn’t “forgive debt,” but rather transfers it from the people who willingly took out the loans to those who never attended college or who have already repaid their loans.

Two House Democrats joined with 216 Republicans in condemning the president’s plan to forgive the debt.

The president’s plan is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court by plaintiffs who argue that it goes beyond the scope of the Heroes Act of 2003. This act grants the U.S. secretary of education the authority to modify the federal student loan system during times of national emergencies.

Biden administration officials argue the president is acting within the law, but the plaintiffs challenging the program assert that the law allows only narrow applications of relief, not the widespread loan cancellation desired by the president.


Earlier this year, Republicans introduced a CRA measure in the House with the intention of halting student debt relief. This came after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that Biden’s plan fell under the jurisdiction of the CRA, which empowers Congress to suspend actions initiated by the president.

In May, the resolution was approved by the House in a vote of 218–203, receiving support from all Republicans and two Democrats, namely Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington.

Shortly thereafter, the Senate passed the resolution with a vote of 52–46, as Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, along with Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, joined forces with Republicans to reject the plan.

The Senate passed the resolution hours before the House was expected to vote on the debt limit deal struck between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden in late May.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act, which would suspend the national debt limit until January 2025, also includes a provision that would require the government to resume the collection of student loan payments and interest, which have been frozen for the last three years.

The government is expected to resume collecting student loan payments at the end of August.

Legal Challenges

Biden’s plan for sweeping debt forgiveness is unprecedented—with an estimated price tag of $400 billion, the policy would be among the most expensive executive actions in U.S. history.

Under the constitutional system of the United States, Congress must expressly authorize the president to issue rules having enormous economic and political consequences. In this case, Congress did not provide that authorization to Biden.

Critics say the president acted improperly, and therefore the student loan relief plan should be declared invalid.

The Supreme Court has also been deliberating over Biden’s program in relation to two separate cases challenging his authority to implement it. Before the Court can rule, it must first assess whether the challengers have standing. This requires the plaintiffs to demonstrate a tangible injury that the Court can address.

The Supreme Court is currently considering two legal challenges brought by six Republican-led states (Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina), as well as another challenge supported by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy organization.

The Court is expected to rule on the matter by the end of June.