Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) revealed earlier in September that a major reason why she decided to run for Congress was to help pass legislation that would eliminate her own student debt burden.
“I am one of 45 million [Americans who owe student debt] and it has been part of my journey and one of the reasons that drove me to run for office,” Omar said while appearing on a BET News Town Hall. “I also have a daughter — not only do I have student debt, but I have a daughter that is going to college in two years and so the realness of this burden that we all feel shackled with has been real for me.”
Omar introduced legislation in June that would cancel upwards of $1.6 trillion in student debt, forgiving outstanding federal and private student loans. If passed, the Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019 is estimated to cost taxpayers $2.2 trillion over a decade.
“As someone who is part of the debt generation, I wanted to make sure that we were creating a proposal that would alleviate the kind of stress that people are dealing with, so what we are proposing is a simple cancellation of all debt, public and private,” Omar said of the proposed legislation. She further added that the program would be paid for by adding “a small financial transaction to speculators on Wall Street.”
“We believe that we had the opportunity to bail out Wall Street,” she continued. “And now Wall Street gets the opportunity to bail out the American people.”
Omar, who obtained a bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University in 2011, owes between $15,001 and $50,000 in student loans, according to Congressional filings. Interestingly, even though her wages rose to $174,000 after she was elected to Congress, she has still not paid off the debt.
“I am one of the people who are unable to purchase the home that they wanted to,” Omar said at the town hall. “I am one of the people that are putting off the right, the dream to own that business, to create the kind of investment they want in the future that they want to have.”
Despite the Minnesota congresswoman’s five-figure debt, she has reportedly moved into a luxury penthouse apartment in one of Minneapolis’s trendiest districts since her paycheck increased, according to The Daily Mail. Her apartment is reported to cost more than $2,800 per month and the three-bedroom unit includes a “movable granite island, built-in wine rack and stainless steel pot racks in its high-end kitchen.”
“This idea that we are supposed to get an education to jump start a life and have a pathway to success has not been one that has been guaranteed to most of us,” Omar said. “That comes with lots of stress and so for my family, for my husband, it has been a real challenge to look at how much we’re bringing in — before getting to Congress — and to see the amount of money that we have to write to pay off our student loan debt every single month.”