Republicans demand probe of potential White House staff conflicts related to student loan debt plan


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

EXCLUSIVE: Top House Republicans are demanding an ethics investigation into the White House’s proposed student loan forgiveness plan, which they say is an illegal “unjust wealth transfer” from hardworking Americans and also a conflict of interest for Biden administration political appointees working on the policy.

The White House’s most recent proposal would forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers with a household yearly income below $300,000.

In a letter to the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Emory Rounds Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., and House Committee on Education and Labor Republican Leader Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., take issue with the policy.

“This policy is an unjust wealth transfer from hardworking Americans to highly educated upper-middle-class graduates who borrowed from taxpayers to earn their degree, and, in some cases, multiple degrees,” the lawmakers write.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) 

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 10: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about inflation and the economy in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) 
((Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images))

“In addition to the substantial and negative ramifications of this illegal action, we are especially concerned that this policy may have been promulgated by White House staffers who stand to financially benefit from the decision, especially considering recent reports that White House political appointees owe millions in student loan debt. Public officials should never use their office to unjustly enrich themselves, and such behavior would directly violate the Ethics Pledge that President Biden implemented for all political appointees,” they continue.

STUDENT LOAN REFINANCE RATES FREEFALL FOR 5-YEAR VARIABLE-RATE LOANS

Comer and Foxx ask Rounds for assistance in determining whether White House staffers have a conflict of interest or if their families could benefit from Biden’s policy that they are currently working to enact.

“Presumably, political appointees with outstanding student loans are included in the reported student loan forgiveness scheme the Biden administration is planning to undertake, thereby raising concerns of whether appointees with conflicts of interest pushed student loan forgiveness to receive a financial windfall,” they write.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona deliver remarks during an event for the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room of the White House on April 27, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 27: U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona deliver remarks during an event for the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room of the White House on April 27, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Republicans cite a recent report that found that one in five White House staffers who filled out a financial disclosure form have student loans that are still being paid off. The total for the group amounts to nearly $4.7 million in unpaid loans. That number is likely to be higher since junior staff or appointees below a certain pay level are not required to disclose their financials, the lawmakers point out.

“Public officials should not be responsible for crafting policies from which they stand to financially benefit,” the letter states.

BIDEN’S STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PLAN: EVERYTHING WE KNOW SO FAR

Foxx and Comer state that this “gross abuse of power” by employees would also “explicitly violate President Biden’s Ethics Pledge.”

They ask the director of government ethics to provide to them a list of all Biden administration employees who have worked on the student loan forgiveness policy and all documents and communications that would reveal whether those staffers have worked on pushing the policy.

The White House announced,Tuesday that President Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next month.

The White House announced,Tuesday that President Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next month.
((AP Photo/Susan Walsh))

In addition, they demand signed copies of all ethics pledges from those individuals and any ethics waivers that may have been given to the staff working on the policy.

The Department of Education recently announced it would cancel $5.8 billion in full loan discharges for 560,000 borrowers who attended a campus owned or operated by Corinthian Colleges, amounting to the “largest single loan discharge” in department history. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

That number adds to an already robust $25 billion in student loan relief under Biden. About 43 million federal borrowers still owe a total of $1.6 trillion in college debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics declined to comment on the letter.

Show some Love^^