Summer Lee on Primetime Talking SCOTUS’ Attacks on Students, Already Marginalized Communities, Biden’s Plan to Push Through Relief 

Jul 05, 2023
Press

**For immediate release**

 Contact: Emilia.rowland@mail.house.gov (330) 212-2065

Summer Lee on Primetime Talking SCOTUS’ Attacks on Students, Already Marginalized Communities, Biden’s Plan to Push Through Relief 

“We know that when we help students, we’re actually helping our economy, we’re helping our entire country. Our President is keeping his promise to young voters who came out enthusiastically.”

(Pittsburgh, PA – July 05, 2023) –  Congresswoman Summer Lee joined the MSNBC’s 9 pm hour with Ayman Mohyeldin following the onslaught of harmful decisions by the Supreme Court ahead of the holiday weekend. Speaking from lived expertise as the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress and one of only a few lawmakers carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, Lee talked candidly about how these rulings are designed to uphold white supremacy and add to the barriers that harm already marginalized students and communities, keeping them out of elite institutions and positions of power.

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Transcript:

Ayman: Joining me now Democratic Congresswoman from Pennsylvania Summer Lee, a vocal advocate for student debt forgiveness, who comes at the issue with her own personal story of grappling with student debt. Congresswoman Lee, it’s great to have you thank you so much for making time for us. Let’s start with this plan announced today by President Biden that he will use the 1965 Higher Education Act to pursue student debt forgiveness for a second time. We’re still awaiting more details and full disclosure, but he did say that the plan is already underway. And for me, you know, it’s kind of hard to forget President Trump because, you know, he tried multiple times to implement a number of draconian immigration restrictions, including the infamous Muslim ban. And he did so by executive order. Should Joe Biden use Trump as a sort of inverse model for this kind of White House policy fight?

Rep. Summer Lee: Listen. My hope is, is that we use whatever leverage point every single tool that we have at our disposal to move on this issue, right? There’s a lot of noise about how important student debt relief is right? There is a contingent of folks who want us to believe that student debt relief is just something that’s going to benefit some far off elite that is just lazy people who don’t want to pay their own debts. But the reality is, is that a student loan debt is predatory, that the people who are most impacted are the very people who were just harmed by the Supreme Court ruling and the affirmative action cases, black students, particularly marginalized students carry those burdens. We know that when we help students, we’re actually helping our economy, we’re helping our entire country. And it is a promise that our president has to keep because he made it to our voters who came out enthusiastically. We want to make sure that we’re showing those American voters, those students who have loaned that millions of us that our party, that our Democratic Party, our president, our government cares about us that we’re going to fight that we’re going to use everything. So listen, whether it’s executive action, or the authority through the ATA, we want to make sure that we’re using everything to tackle this right now.

Ayman: Let me ask you about your own personal experience. You only have a handful of the 435 members of the House who carry student loan debt you are among them. You’ve spoken before about how that debt you carry affects every decision you make in your life. How are you feeling today? And do you have hope that President Biden can actually get this done for you and others?

Rep. Summer Lee: I feel discouraged  like so many other people who are watching these cases come down. We feel discouraged. We feel deflated. That’s what we’re supposed to feel that’s our immediate reaction. This is what the court this is what the Roberts Court this is what the Republican Party has been fighting for, to make us feel isolated to make us feel like we’re running out of options. That’s why it was so important that President Biden speaks directly to us today, as somebody who who has very little hope of ever being free of this debt. Right? I know that there are so many more who might not even get the opportunity to attend colleges, because of the because of the Supreme Court ruling. So it’s going to be generations, particularly black women who are going to language whose brilliance will never be honed because of these rules, because of this ongoing fight to ensure that only certain students only certain people get to go to college get to have an education get to pursue certain careers, these rulings, they send a message that you know, black women are not just that we’re not qualified, because we are it sends the message that we’re not wanted in these institutions. It sends the message that if we are going to pursue these careers, that we’re going to pay with it with a lifelong debt. I have hope that Biden is going to move that President Biden is going to take action because he is taking action. But we know that we have to continue to encourage the administration. We know that we have to continue to hold this administration accountable. And we can’t let up on this one. It’s gonna be a lot of incentives to Let us but we have to make sure those of us who carried it that we are not allowing anyone to, to back put this on the back burner right now.

Ayman: Do you see a connection between the two decisions over the past few days not and not in the ruling, but in their impact on students of color minorities and women? I mean, you have the court’s decision to block the Biden’s administration with the student, the student debt forgiveness being rejected, and you have the affirmative action decision that came out yesterday. I mean, together, do you worry that these two rulings will cement this country’s already existing racial wealth gap?

Rep. Summer Lee: That is its intention? That is that is absolutely the intention of these rulings, right. Again, I just mentioned that black women are the largest carriers of student loan debt, we disproportionately carry that burden. We are also the group of folks who for so many reasons throughout history have been kept away from quality education, the focus is on affirmative action. But the reality is, affirmative action was never on solid footing. We know that it was never long for this world, our our opportunities, any advantage that we might have was always at the whim of the makeup of the court. But it was always a band aid to a gun boom, right? More than we need affirmative action. And with affirmative action, we need quality pre K through K through 12. You know, education, we need to make sure that every student, irrespective of their zip code, can get a quality education, public education, and the communities they call home, we need to make sure that black students have access to appropriate books and curriculum and educators that they’re in schools that don’t have open asbestos and lead. Those are issues that predate this ruling, right? These all go hand in hand as this nation, and there’s so many people who are gleeful about the idea of black students not being able to get a higher education, we’re harming the entire nation. What we do to black people will be reflected in the future of our economy, the future of our national security. And we are throwing away so much talent, so much brilliance, so much opportunity for innovation by shutting and continuing to shut black students out. But this was what they asked for. This is what we are willing to do to keep black folks from upward mobility from any any measure of economic stability, and we will see the impacts of this from this ruling. That will be what happens. And now through legislative action through executive action, we have to take steps to counteract the damage that the court has chosen to inflict upon us.

Ayman: Yeah, I was gonna say as others have pointed out, the cruelty is the point in all of these measures. Congresswoman summerly. Always a pleasure, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. Greatly Appreciate it. Thank you.

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