Republicans in the United States Senate are working to bring student debt payments back to life by the end of the most recent moratorium. This comes at a time when President Joe Biden is coming under renewed pressure to take broader action on tackling student debt.

On Wednesday, a group of five GOP lawmakers introduced a bill called the Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act that would force Biden and future presidents to seek Congress' approval before suspending or canceling any outstanding federal student loan debts. 

"As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years after the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligations," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in a statement announcing the bill. 

Thune and his colleagues who support the bill argue that the pause on student loan debt payments puts an unfair burden on working-class families. They also argue that the strength of the present job market means that more Americans have the means to resume payments. 

Student loan payments were frozen by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic after it was declared a national emergency. Biden’s administration has initiated multiple pauses on federal student loan payments with the most recent pause arriving last month on April 6. This latest freeze is expected to end on Aug 31. 

The pause on student debt payments is estimated to have saved households about $195 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is an important extra amount of money that has been made available considering some borrowers are paying approximately 11% of their income on student loan payments, according to one analysis by JP Morgan. 

But Republican debt hawks in the Senate are wary about how these pauses are contributing to a ballooning federal deficit. Other supporters warn that these pauses and efforts to forgive larger sums for every borrower may only add to inflation. 

“The student debt repayment pause will add $120 billion to the deficit through August, offer a massive handout to doctors and lawyers, and feed more inflation. It’s time to end ongoing COVID relief, or at least fully offset any further extensions,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who supports the GOP bill. 

The senators’ effort arrives as Biden has signaled a willingness to enact some form of student debt relief through executive action. Despite promising to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers as a candidate, Biden balked at initiating measures of this kind, echoing arguments similar to those used by the Republican senators. 

However, in a recent meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden indicated a new level of openness to taking some action. Democrats in Congress have pressured Biden to follow through on his campaign promises, especially after his domestic agenda came to a screeching halt at the end of 2021.