WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

Sen. Whitehouse advocates for student loan forgiveness due to pandemic

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Tens of millions of Americans are out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many unable to continue paying off their student loans.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, has introduced legislation that will hopefully ease that burden and allow qualified borrowers to erase their debt.

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act would provide relief to those who have lost significant income or have accrued high medical expenses due to COVID-19.

Whitehouse said the last thing Americans who have been bankrupted by COVID-19 medical expenses should have to worry about is repaying their student loans.

“My bill tries to remedy those problems, at least partially,” Whitehouse said. “This intersects basically two issues ─ the issue of medical bankruptcy and the issue of student loans, so that those who have a medical bankruptcy can undo their student loans.”

While Democrats hope to provide relief to student loan borrowers in the next COVID-19 relief package, Republicans are only on board to a point.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he’s willing to allow borrowers to delay their student loan payments.

“If you don’t have a job you can’t pay a loan,” he said. “They’re not working as much as they used to, they’ve had healthcare bills they didn’t have before. So I’m a practical guy, I want to help people.”

The CARES Act passed in March paused student loan payments until the end of September. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said he believes the next relief package should include something similar as opposed to student loan debt forgiveness.

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