Warren rushes to Capitol to continue hearing questions after Zoom failure

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTop Democrats urge Yellen to crack down on dark money groups On The Money: Biden calls Dems, urges big COVID bill | Biden’s SEC pick sidelined as GameStop drama unfolds | Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief ousts hundreds from advisory panels | Defense pick discusses Trump transition hurdles | Aircraft carrier returning home after 10-month deployment MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday rushed to the Capitol in the middle of a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to continue her questioning of President Biden’s Education secretary pick, Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaBiden’s Education secretary must seize the bully pulpit — and quickly Watch live: Cardona testifies at confirmation hearing for Education secretary The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats chart path to pass Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan MORE, experiencing technical difficulties over Zoom. 

Warren was one of a handful of committee members who opted to participate in the hearing over video chat due to COVID-19 safety concerns, while other senators were present in the room while social distancing. 

Warren first began her line of questioning toward Cardona via Zoom from her D.C. home, opening with, “You were a first-generation college student, and for you and for me, an affordable college education opened a million doors. But today’s students face a very different situation, so I want to talk with you today about student debt.” 

She then outlined statistics on the level of student loan debt in the U.S., including that 43 million people, or 1 in 5 adults, have federal student loan debt, and 40 percent of those with student debt do not have a college degree. 

“Can you just say a word about what that means for them?” Warren asked. 

“Well, what it means is that because they don’t have the college degree, maybe they don’t have the income potential that they would have had and paying these bills will be a larger task and probably a longer process,” Cardona explained. 

After Warren appeared to have not heard Cardona’s answer, she questioned him again, to which Cardona reiterated his response. 

Incoming Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback Demolition at the Labor Department, too Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (D-Wash.) said that Warren seemed to be “having connection problems,” and that they would come back to her once the issues were resolved. 

About 50 minutes later, Murray returned to Warren, though this time the Massachusetts senator appeared in-person to continue her questions. 

It was not immediately clear how Warren traveled to the hearing room from her home, and her office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for additional details. 

I’m reminded by this how difficult it is right now for our students and for our teachers who are having to deal with technical glitches that interrupt their education every day, and why this package is so important to get the resources in to our schools so we can get those schools open for learning for all of our kids and persons,” the former economics professor said.

Warren on Thursday, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate names first Black secretary of the Senate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate committee advances Granholm nomination to lead Energy | EPA nominee Regan pledges ‘urgency’ on climate change at confirmation hearing | Omar calls on Biden to block pipeline being built in Minnesota Biden approval stands at 49 percent in new Quinnipiac poll MORE (D-N.Y.), led a group of other Democratic lawmakers in reintroducing a plan calling on Biden to instruct the Education secretary to use provisions of the Higher Education Act and forgive up to $50,000 in debt per borrower.

It also asks Biden to order the IRS to waive taxes on the canceled loans, since forgiven debt is typically treated as taxable income in the U.S.