Waiting for almost the very last minute on a Friday, President Trump issued his first veto on domestic policy legislation. This veto was to Joint House Resolution 76, sponsored by Representative Susie Lee (D-NV), a bill that would have prevented Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from implementing her new rule determining how defrauded student borrowers could get loan forgiveness.
The “borrower’s defense against repayment” rule gives the secretary of education the power to pay off student debt if student borrowers have been defrauded by their college. In 2016, the Obama administration issued new regulations for the borrower defense rule after the floodgates opened with students accusing former Corinthian College fraud.
Secretary DeVos thought the Obama-era rule was too generous and recently rewrote the rule, making it very difficult for borrowers to get loan forgiveness. His new rule created a very high standard, placing an almost impossible burden of proof on student borrowers.
While the old regulation required that a student had to submit a material misrepresentation on the part of a school, DeVos would require students to prove that schools did so knowing that the information was false or that the school acted with reckless disregard for accurate information. Students would also have to demonstrate that they have suffered financial harm – an incredibly difficult standard to prove.
In March, the The Republican-controlled Senate passed the resolution under the Congressional Review Act, joining the House of Representatives to rebuke DeVos’ new rule. Ten Republican Senators joined with all Senate Democrats in sending this resolution to the White House.
Trump’s veto will likely anger many veterans across the country just days after Memorial Day. In March, more than 30 military and veterans organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans Education Success, signed a letter urging President Trump to support the legislation. Just before Trump vetoed the measure, the American Legion tweeted a statement calling on the president to sign the law.
Many veterans have been the target of predatory colleges seeking to reap the benefits of military and veteran education. Veterans Education Success even organized a Fox News announcement target the president in the hope that he could influence him to support the legislation.
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn the regulations of an administration. A Trump veto has always been the likely outcome, as a president is unlikely to override his own administration. White House staff issued a declaration in February that the president is expected to veto the resolution.
However, Trump himself has shown inconsistency On the question. Last year, Trump announced he was going pay off debts of disabled veterans whereas his administration had been slow to do so before. He also reportedly considered debt forgiveness due to pressure from the 2020 campaign and debt cancellation proposals from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The resolution will now return to Congress, where the House will have the first chance to override the veto. Two-thirds of the members in each chamber must vote for the derogation for it to be successful. The House is expected to vote to overturn the president’s veto, but it’s unclear whether enough Republicans would join the Democrats.
And if the House is successful, the waiver faces a much steeper hill in the Senate. Winning the top 10 senators was already a big victory for supporters of the legislation, but it will take winning more Republicans to bypass the president in the Republican-controlled chamber.