U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and a Democratic presidential hopeful brought out a bill to help Americans behind on their student loan payments earlier this year–and the Florida Republican is insisting that his idea is gaining traction at the state level.
Earlier this year, Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to bring back the “Protecting Job Opportunities for Borrowers (Protecting JOBs) Act” which “would help to ensure borrowers are not inhibited from working in their trained field solely because they fell behind on their federal student loan payments” and “would prevent states from suspending, revoking or denying state professional, teaching, or driver’s licenses solely because a borrower falls behind on their federal student loan payments.”
Rubio weighed in on the bill when he brought it out.
“It is wrong to threaten a borrower’s livelihood by rescinding a professional license from those who are struggling to repay student loans, and it deprives hardworking Americans of dignified work,” Rubio said. “Our bill fixes this ‘catch-22’ and ensures that borrowers are able to continue working to pay off their loans, instead of being caught in a modern-day debtors prison.”
“We shouldn’t punish people struggling to pay back their student loans by taking away their drivers’ or professional licenses, preventing them from going to work and making a living,” said Warren. “Our bipartisan bill removes these senseless roadblocks so that borrowers can build better financial futures.”
“Beginning two years after enactment, this legislation would prevent states from suspending, revoking or denying state professional licenses solely because borrowers are behind on their federal student loan payments. The bill achieves this goal by using the same statutory structure that requires certain members of the Armed Forces to receive in-state tuition as a condition of the states’ colleges and universities receiving certain federal funds under the Higher Education Act,” Rubio’s office noted.
The Florida Republican’s office also stressed the bill “prevents states from denying, suspending, or revoking state-issued: driver’s licenses; teaching licenses; professional licenses; or a similar form of licensing to lawful employment in a certain field.” The bill gives states two years to comply and “provides borrowers with legal recourse for non-compliance, by allowing them to file for prospective injunctive relief if a state violates the terms of the act.”
On Wednesday, Rubio’s office noted that Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Tex., signed a law last week which prevents an occupational license from being denied or revoked because of default on a student loan. Rubio called the new law in the Lone Star State proof that his idea was gaining traction at the state level.
“It is wrong to threaten a borrower’s livelihood by rescinding a professional license from those who are struggling to repay student loans, and it deprives hard working Americans of dignified work,” Rubio said. “I am encouraged by the wave of states, like Texas, working to fix this ‘catch-22,’ ensuring that borrowers are able to continue working to pay off their loans, instead of being caught in a modern-day debtors prison.”
Rubio’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee where it has sat since the end of February. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House and Rubio has not been able to reel in any cosponsors besides Warren.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.