President Trump has vetoed a domestic policy bill for the first time, rejecting a bipartisan measure that would have barred Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from implementing a new rule determining how defrauded student borrowers could get loan forgiveness.
Mr. Trump said the legislation “sought to reimpose an Obama-era regulation that defined educational fraud so broadly that it threatened to paralyze the nation’s system of higher education.”
“The Department of Education’s rule strikes a better balance, protecting students’ rights to recover from schools that defraud them while foreclosing frivolous lawsuits that undermine higher education and expose taxpayers to needless loss,” he said in a Friday night statement.
Mrs. DeVos crafted the “borrower defense to repayment” rule to revise a 2016 Obama rule that she said was too generous to students claiming they were defrauded.
Mr. Trump said leaders of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have told him that the legislation “would have irreparably harmed their great institutions.”
“As president, I have been strongly committed to fighting for HBCUs,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “As I have said before, HBCUs have never had a better champion in the White House. My disapproval of this resolution is another marker of that support.”
He urged lawmakers “to sustain my veto, and to stand with HBCUs and students against the trial lawyers who want to undermine our higher education system for their own financial gain.”
When the Senate approved the legislation, 10 Republican senators voted for the measure. But that 53-42 vote would not provide the two-thirds supermajority needed to override the veto.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic-controlled chamber will overturn the veto.
“It is sad that the president rejected the will of the Congress and the country with his veto,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The House will soon vote to overturn this veto, which poses a grave harm to the financial security and futures of America’s students, particularly as America’s students are hurting more now than ever during the COVID-19 crisis.”
She noted that 34 veterans’ groups support the legislation and opposed the Education Department’s new rule, “even warning that it leaves our men and women in uniform to the mercy of predatory schools that see them ‘as nothing more than dollar signs.’”
Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked the president on Twitter, “in 4 days did you forget those flag waving Memorial Day speeches as you vetoed a bill veterans were begging for?”