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After canceling student loan debt, Biden admin announces paying college students to register voters

This is an “attempt to weaponize the federal government to support the president’s reelection campaign," said Jason Snead.

Published: March 3, 2024 10:43pm

The Biden administration announced it will pay college students to register voters and participate in get-out-the-vote activities shortly after canceling student loan debt.

It’s a move that Republicans and election integrity advocates are saying will mobilize Democratic voters with taxpayer dollars.

After canceling student loan debt the prior week, the Biden administration announced that it will pay college students to register voters and engage in GOTV efforts through a Federal Work-Study (FWS) program.

Some election integrity proponents say that this is an unprecedented occurrence in U.S. history where the federal government is using taxpayer funding to keep the incumbent president in power.

On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the federal government will pay college students to register people to vote. 

“We have been doing work to promote voter participation for students, and for example we have, under the federal work study program, now allow students to get paid through federal work study to register people and to be non-partisan poll workers,” Harris said. “As we know, this is important for a number of reasons. One, to engage our young leaders in this process and activate them in terms of their ability to strengthen our communities.” 

On Monday, the Department of Education clarified a 2022 memo, explaining that FWS funds can be used “to support voter registration activities.” 

The Education “Department is today clarifying that FWS funds may be used for employment by a Federal, State, local, or Tribal public agency for civic engagement work that is not associated with a particular interest or group…” according to the memo

“This work can include supporting broad-based get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, providing voter assistance at a polling place or through a voter hotline, or serving as a poll worker,” the memo continued

House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) posted on his X account on Wednesday in response to Harris’ announcement, writing, “This is unacceptable. Democrats are now trying to use taxpayer dollars for their get-out-the-vote efforts.” 

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) posted on his X account on Tuesday regarding the announcement, referencing a 2021 executive order from President Biden. The executive order instructed federal agencies to develop proposals to expand opportunities to register to vote and participate in the political process, then submit their strategic plans to the White House Domestic Policy Council.  

“Biden signed EO14019 ordering federal govt to use taxpayer $ to mobilize (his) voters,” Hagerty wrote. “[Stephen Miller] has FOIAed details, and I’ve sought them in Congress, but Biden is hiding them. Sounds like the election-year plan is underway.” 

The FWS announcement was made days after Biden said he canceled $1.2 billion in student loan debt for nearly 153,000 borrowers, after canceling similar debt earlier in his presidency. 

In total, “The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers through more than two dozen executive actions,” the White House fact sheet reads. 

When Biden announced the student debt cancelation, he said, "Early in my term, I announced a major plan to provide millions of working families with debt relief for their college student debt. Tens of millions of people in debt were literally about to be canceled in debts. But my MAGA Republican friends in the Congress, elected officials and special interests stepped in and sued us. And the Supreme Court blocked it. But that didn’t stop me." 

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that the education secretary wasn’t allowed to cancel more than $430 billion in student loan debt. However, the Biden administration had already planned on finding workarounds. 

Jason Snead, Executive Director of the Honest Elections Project, told Just the News on Thursday that Biden’s 2021 “executive order turns the entire federal government into a get-out-the-vote operation” as “agencies are collaborating with leftwing nonprofit groups to get the job done.” 

He explained that this is an “attempt to weaponize the federal government to support the president’s reelection campaign. There’s never been a period in American history where the federal government spent tax money on what looks like partisan registration and get-out-the-vote.” 

Snead said that it’s difficult to “get college students” to volunteer their time, rather than if they are paid. Because of this, the Biden administration is using federal resources and working with leftist “nonprofits, subsidizing them, making it easier to enlist students to support the program, and doing it for a particular demographic that’s overwhelmingly liberal.” 

He added that this is part of a “larger attempt to abuse the levers of power to benefit the election of the incumbent” in office. 

Snead suggested that Congress should investigate this move by the Biden administration to fully understand how it’s implementing these federal GOTV efforts. He also mentioned that state officials should look into it, as it’s an “attempt by the federal government to intrude in state election administration.” 

“If abusing the levers of the federal government to stay in office isn't an attack on democracy, then I don't what is,” Snead later added. 

Phill Kline, director of the Amistad Project, told Just the News on Friday that if the evidence is gathered regarding this FWS program, it’d show that what the Biden administration is doing is “illegal because you can demonstrate intent and the misuses of those funds to benefit a candidate.” 

“Countries where the government” makes “sure certain people vote, those countries don't remain free,” he noted. 

“Imagine them walking around with a slip of paper to show how much the Biden loan forgiveness program saved them,” Kline said of students who participate in the Education Department’s GOTV program. “I don't think we’ve ever witnessed the commercialization of votes in history as seen today.” 

Kline added that it “used to be on a smaller scale” where a “city boss would pass out gifts.” However, using “wholesale government monies and nonprofit monies going into the government to direct it to do these things is frightening,” and causing the American people to lose “faith in the election,” he said. 

Kline said that “we have never witnessed an executive and a party that have been willing to exploit all the power of government to their benefit and their supporters and maintain power.” 

He also called the student loan debt cancellation a “direct benefit for an indirect cost and accumulating power,” as the average citizen is unaware of how much the program will hurt them through taxes and the national debt, but the “person who gets a specific amount [of debt] forgiven” receives a direct benefit. 

The Department of Education didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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