Biden extends pause on federal student loan payments – National & International News – WED 6Apr2022



Biden extends pause on federal student loan payments. OK lawmakers vote to outlaw nearly all abortions. Shanghai lockdown to bring more supply chain woes.



Biden extends pause on federal student loan payments

After weeks of speculation, President Biden has extended the pause of federal student loan repayments until August 31. This is the sixth time the pause on repayments has been extended since it was enacted under former President Trump. Until today’s announcement, payments were to resume May 1, which would have raised financial pressures on millions of households already struggling with inflation. 

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to reduce student debt by $10,000 per borrower. Since coming into office, Biden has forgiven debts, but only for some borrowers under very specific circumstances. Fellow Democrats have been calling for Biden to enact broader debt cancellations ahead of the midterms. There has been no word yet on whether Biden is considering forgiving any amount of student loan debt before the new August 31 deadline.

The decision to only postpone until a few weeks before the midterms will make it a salient issue for voters, especially if inflation remains high. A recent poll shows that forgiving student loan debt could secure votes for Democrats in key battleground states

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Oklahoma legislators vote to outlaw nearly all abortions

Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled legislature has passed a bill that would criminalize nearly all abortions in the state. The state’s governor Kevin Stitt has promised to sign any bill restricting abortions that makes it to his desk. If the bill becomes law, it would make performing any abortion in the state a felony, unless it would “save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency”. There are no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Abortion providers would face fines of up to $100,000 and 10 years in prison. This law would surpass Texas’ Heartbeat Act to become the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

As it stands now, Oklahoma’s law would be in direct violation of federal law. However, many states are passing and debating ever more restrictive laws in the belief that the conservative majority Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade later this year. This means that a court could prevent the Oklahoma bill from becoming law until the Supreme Court makes its ruling.

The wording of the bill could also have severe consequences for pregnant women who suffer life-threating health complications. Already in Texas, the wording of the Heartbeat Act has made doctors reluctant to perform abortions to head off impending life-threatening crises. Most have interpreted the Heartbeat Act as prohibiting abortions up until the point that the mother’s life is in immediate danger, even if there is no chance of a healthy live birth.

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Shanghai COVID lockdown threatens more supply chain woes

The Chinese city of Shanghai is entering its second week of a draconian COVID lockdown. Earlier this week, the lockdown was extended to include the whole city, which had previously been locked down in rolling phases. The city of 26 million recorded over 16,000 cases on Wednesday. This sounds low by global standards, but this is China’s worst COVID outbreak since the virus’ initial emergence in Wuhan. Since case numbers are continuing to climb, the lockdown could go on indefinitely.

Shanghai is one of the world’s leading port cities and industrial hubs. When the lockdown was announced, oil prices actually dropped, indicating the city’s importance in global trade. The lockdown will be devastating not only for China’s economy, but also for the world’s already-strained supply chains. Expect higher prices and longer delays on key supplies.

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