DeKALB – During a town hall Tuesday in DeKalb, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, addressed constituents and said she hopes President Joe Biden “makes good” on his promise to bring student loan debt relief to Illinois families.
Nearly 80 people turned out Tuesday to see the Democrat up for reelection in a reconfigured congressional district during a stop at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, the final of three town halls held across northern Illinois in recent days.
Underwood fielded questions from area residents on a variety of topics, from student loan debt and the Jan. 6 insurrection, to term limits and immigration issues. On Wednesday, Biden is expected to announce long-delayed plans to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who’s income cap falls below $125,000. Biden’s announcement is also expected to include an extension of the existing pause on loan payments through the end of the year.
When asked about higher education and affordability, Underwood said she is supportive of the existing pandemic-related student loan moratorium. The payment pauses began in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic under President Donald Trump and have continued under Biden’s administration.
“President Biden has stated that he’s going to make an announcement about student debt forgiveness sometime this month and I hope he makes good on that promise and takes action to offer families this much-needed relief,” Underwood said.
Underwood also shared updates on what her office has accomplished on behalf of the people of the state’s 14th Congressional District, which in November will soon encompass parts of DeKalb, La Salle, Will, DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. The meeting was planned in the wake of Biden recently signing into law the Inflation Reduction Act, or as Underwood puts it, “historic” legislation.
The program consisted of a brief presentation followed by a question-and-answer session in which the public was allowed to ask questions.
Underwood, a nurse and staunch advocate for health care and public health, touted the law, giving praise to its inclusion of the Health Care Affordability Act. The act lowers health coverage premiums by making tax credits for marketplace plans more generous and available to people.
She said the law will also help reduce pollution, lower energy costs and create thousands of good paying jobs by making the biggest corporations and the ultra wealthy pay their fair share.
“I voted for it because it puts people over politics and meets the needs of Illinois families,” Underwood said.
Underwood said that passing the Inflation Reduction Act makes sense on many levels.
“While the Inflation Reduction Act will reduce the deficit and help us continue to fight inflation, it will also help us to build on our country’s record economic growth – the fastest in almost 40 years,” Underwood said.
In response to a question about Jan. 6 and discussions around protecting election officials, Underwood spoke of her own fear on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I am here to tell you, it was real. It was scary,” Underwood said. “Our country was attacked that day by individuals that came to the Capitol seeking to overturn the election results and kill members of Congress. After that occurrence, it was clear to members of Congress, like me and others on both sides of aisle, that legislative action is necessary to clarify exactly what is permissible under federal law and who does what.”
Underwood said lawmakers are working to address the Electoral Count Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Underwood acknowledged there are things she needs to tackle closer to home in the 14th Congressional District going forward as well.
Underwood said that, like many, she’s still still grieving with the people of Highland Park after a July 4 mass shooting that left seven dead and dozens more injured. She also said her thoughts are with those impacted by the shooting at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee last week.
“These tragedies have touched too many communities in Illinois and across the country,” Underwood said. “Whether it’s at school, at work, at a concert, a place of worship or their own home, everyone deserves to feel safe.”
She said she supports enacting common sense lifesaving legislation to promote gun safety, which is why she backed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that passed this summer. It is law that enhances background checks for younger gun buyers, incentives states to implement red flag laws and closes the ‘boyfriend loophole’ to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Underwood said she is proud of the impact that her work is having on people in the 14th Congressional District.