House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Committee on Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) raised ethical questions about Biden Administration officials poised to receive a financial windfall from the administration’s proposal to forgive at least $10,000 in student debt for millions of federal student loan borrowers. In a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director Emory Rounds, the Republican lawmakers request information to determine whether Biden Administration political appointees have a potential conflict of interest and whether they or their family members would benefit from a policy they are pushing President Biden to enact.
“We are conducting oversight over the White House’s proposal to reportedly forgive at least $10,000 in student debt for millions of federal student loan borrowers with a household income up to $300,000. 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. 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. We write to request your assistance in determining whether White House staffers have a conflict of interest and whether they or their family members would benefit from the policy they are pushing the President to enact,” wrote the lawmakers.
“A recent report found no less than thirty senior White House staffers with millions in outstanding student loans. One in five White House staffers required to file a disclosure reported outstanding student loans. Together, this group owes approximately $4.7 million—a sum that does not include White House staffers not required to disclose such debt due to junior status or pay thresholds. Public officials should not be responsible for crafting policies from which they stand to financially benefit,” continued the lawmakers. “Many hardworking taxpayers do not hold a college degree, made difficult financial decisions to obtain a degree without borrowing from taxpayers, or made tough choices in order to pay off their student loans. We want to better understand the administration’s decision to benefit indebted political appointees and highly educated graduates at the expense of taxpayers.”
The Republican lawmakers request a list of all public officials in the Biden Administration who have worked on the student loan forgiveness policy and all related documents and communications.
Read the letter here.