Updated Jul 27, 2023, 7:43am EDT

Chip Roy is reviving a Ron DeSantis bill to make schools pay for bad student loans

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The News

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, will introduce a bill hold universities accountable for unpaid student debt, reviving a component from a bill that Ron DeSantis introduced in 2017 when he served as a member of Congress.

The education bill would require colleges to pay an annual fine based on the overall amount of outstanding federal loans among their students in default — they would be liable for 15% minus the average national unemployment rate for that year. It also features other reforms, including requiring more transparency about repayment rates.

“Look, these universities have to have some skin in the game,” Roy said before sharing the legislation with Semafor.

DeSantis has also referenced his work on the policy since launching his campaign, saying it would push schools to emphasize job skills. “If they were responsible for guaranteeing the debts of the students, then they would change their curriculum,” he said at an event in South Carolina this month. “They would not be able to offer post-Marxist gender studies, because that’s not leading to anything.”

The bill, Roy said, would provide a Republican counter to President Biden’s student debt program, which was intended to provide borrowers up to $20,000 in one-time relief before being struck down by the Supreme Court.


Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will introduce the companion bill in the Senate and said in a statement it would help young people who “needlessly face the unfair choice of either drowning in debt or sacrificing their dreams of higher education.”

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Kadia’s view

DeSantis hasn’t emphasized his time in Congress, where he was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, on the campaign trail nearly as much as he has touted his record as governor. But Roy says he’s stayed in regular touch as DeSantis builds a national policy agenda and that his legislative record offers insight into his vision for the country.

“We’ve had lots of conversations about policy and about where we want to take the country, and that’s reflected both in his time in the House and then what he’s been doing as governor,” Roy told Semafor last week. “There are a lot of parallels.”

As the DeSantis campaign plans a series of new policy rollouts to get past its recent struggles, bringing one or more of his old bills to life could help draw more attention to his plans. Roy has promoted the governor’s agenda frequently on TV and in op-eds — last month, he accompanied Desantis in Eagle Pass, Texas to help promote his “No Excuses” immigration enforcement plan.

“I’ll generally do what I’m asked to do to support him because he’s a friend, and I think he’s doing a great job,” Roy said.