The Lead

Pointing to ‘lived expertise,’ Pa. Rep. Lee speaks out on the need for student loan forgiveness

By: - March 10, 2023 1:14 pm

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, speaks during a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strike by the union members in front of the UPMC building on Friday February 24, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/For the Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

During a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus this week, U.S. Rep. Summer Lee D-12th District, spoke in support of President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student debt, which is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Speaking from what she called her “lived expertise,” Lee, who qualified for Pell grants, said she still has a “mountain” of student debt herself. 

“[E]very decision I make is shaped by the obscene amount of student debt I carry because I had the audacity to pursue a higher education—as the daughter of a working-class single mom from the Mon Valley,” Lee said. “Millions of folks who can’t start their lives because of the suffocating burden of their student loan debt—and yet in 2023, only 44 out of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives carried student loan debt.”

In western Pennsylvania, Lee added, “the student debt crisis is a regional crisis holding our future hostage by preventing students and workers from accessing the training they need for our region to become the innovation hub and leader in STEM, that hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs depend on right now.”

Biden’s plan would cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for many borrowers who received Pell grants. Conservative groups and Republicans have sued to block the plan, saying Biden overstepped his authority. The Supreme Court heard arguments for two of those challenges late last month, and is expected to issue its decision in June. 

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Veteran journalist Kim Lyons covers Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star.