President Joe Biden will not include a plan to reduce student loan debt in a speech on Tuesday outlining how his administration aims to tackle the racial wealth gap in the U.S.
Biden will give the speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma during a visit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 but his remarks will not include student loan forgiveness, according to CNBC.
On the campaign trail in 2020, Biden expressed support for a program that would forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for every year of national or community service, up to $50,000 but the White House has not yet published a plan.
In April, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that Biden had directed the Department of Education to prepare a memo outlining the president’s power to eliminate student debt by executive action.
Some Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, have argued that Biden has the power to cancel student debt without recourse to Congress but Biden has appeared reluctant to take executive action.
He has said that he would sign a bill passed by Congress to eliminate $10,000 worth of student debt, however.
“Hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks,” Klain said in April. “And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision. He hasn’t made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.”
No memo has yet been forthcoming and student loan forgiveness will be absent from Biden’s Tuesday despite some economists believing that student debt explains between 10 and 25 percent of the racial wealth gap depending on age, according to The Washington Post.
The memo is being prepared by the Department of Education in conjunction with the Department of Justice and in consultation with the White House.
A White House official told NBC News on May 29: “The president believes that student loans help finance a path to opportunity, not become a lifelong burden, and so White House staff continues to work with agency staff to explore debt relief action that can be taken administratively.”
Biden will announce a number of measures aimed at tackling the racial wealth gap on Tuesday. These will include the creation of an interagency initiative to address the issue of homes in Black neighborhoods receiving lower appraisals and a goal of increasing the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) by 50 percent by 2026.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will also issue two Fair Housing Act rules to strengthen protections that were weakened under the Trump administration.
Newsweek has asked the White House for comment.