On February 28, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) re-introduced the Protecting Job Opportunities for Borrowers (“Protecting JOBs”) Act (S.609). The legislation would prevent states from suspending, revoking, or denying state professional, teaching, or driver’s licenses solely because a borrower falls behind on their federal student loan payments.

Government entities may seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational loans in 19 states. A 2017 New York Times investigation identified at least 8,700 cases in which licenses were revoked or at risk of suspension in recent years.

In a press release, Senator Warren explained, “We shouldn’t punish people struggling to pay back their student loans by taking away their drivers’ or professional licenses, preventing them from going to work and making a living. Our bipartisan bill removes these senseless roadblocks so that borrowers can build better financial futures.”

Senator Rubio added, “It is wrong to threaten a borrower’s livelihood by rescinding a professional license from those who are struggling to repay student loans, and it deprives hardworking Americans of dignified work. Our bill fixes this ‘catch-22’ and ensures that borrowers are able to continue working to pay off their loans, instead of being caught in a modern-day debtors prison.”

If enacted, the Protecting JOBs Act would:

  • Prevent states from denying, suspending, or revoking:
    • state-issued driver’s licenses;
    • teaching licenses;
    • professional licenses; or
    • a similar form of licensing to lawful employment in a particular field;
  • Give states two years to comply; and
  • Provide borrowers with legal recourse by allowing them to file for injunctive relief.

The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Senators Warren and Rubio first introduced the bill in June 2018, but no action has been taken.