The Biden administration on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court reinstate its student loan debt program and claimed its within the authority of the executive branch after a lower court blocked it several days ago.
The program, unveiled weeks before the 2022 midterm elections, promised to deliver up to $20,000 of debt relief for millions of borrowers.
The St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on Nov. 10 froze the plan and prompted the federal government to stop receiving applications, ruling in favor of six Republican-led states. A federal judge in Texas also struck down the White House’s student loan program last week, siding with a lawsuit brought by the Job Creators Network Foundation.
“The Eighth Circuit’s erroneous injunction leaves millions of economically vulnerable borrowers in limbo, uncertain about the size of their debt and unable to make financial decisions with an accurate understanding of their future repayment obligations,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represents the Biden administration, told the Supreme Court in an appeal (pdf) on Friday.
The six states—Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina—wrote that the administration lacks the ability to forgive student loan debt. They said that the White House superseded Congress’s authority in doing so, while they asserted that the states would be financially harmed by the canceling of billions of dollars in debt.
What It Means
Biden’s plan promises $10,000 in federal student debt forgiveness to those with incomes of less than $125,000, or households earning less than $250,000. Pell Grant recipients, who typically demonstrate more financial need, are eligible for an additional $10,000 in relief.
In other arguments the administration made in filings several days ago, Friday’s petition warned that many Americans won’t be able to pay their student debt bills in January if the cancellation plan remains halted.
The Biden administration said that it has authority to provide student loan handouts under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003. The law, it said, exempts the federal government from certain requirements such as notice-and-comment rulemaking.
Almost 26 million people already have applied for the relief, with 16 million approved, but the Education Department stopped accepting and processing applications last week after the plan was ruled illegal by a lower court.
“Because borrowers who default on their student loans face severe financial consequences—including wage garnishment, long-term credit damage, and ineligibility for federal benefits—Congress specifically authorized the Secretary to waive or modify any applicable statutory or regulatory provision as he deems necessary to ensure that borrowers affected by a national emergency are not worse off in relation to their student loans,” Prelogar wrote in the filing on Friday.
On Nov. 10, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman wrote that it’s not up to his court to determine whether the program is “good public policy or not.”
But he added that “no one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch, or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States,” he wrote in blocking the program.
Republicans have questioned the legality of the program since its outset and said it would give significantly more power to the executive branch. Some have also said the plan was a bid to drive younger voters to the polls to cast ballots in favor of Democrats ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms.
In recent weeks, Supreme Court associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied two emergency petitions to block the program.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times