Aon Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which had been put on hold after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month.
A conservative group called the Job Creators Network Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court in Fort Worth in October, arguing that the Biden administration violated federal procedures by failing to seek public input on the program. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two borrowers — one who was allegedly ineligible for relief, and the other who was allegedly ineligible for the maximum $20,000 in debt forgiveness. The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration violated federal procedures by denying borrowers the opportunity to provide public comment before starting the program.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, declared the program “illegal,” citing the 2002 Higher Education Aid Opportunity for Students (HEROES) Act, which gives the Department of Education the ability to grant waivers to financial aid recipients. .
“This case involves the question of whether Congress — through the HEROES Act — gave the secretary [of Education] authority to implement a program that provides debt forgiveness to millions of student-loan borrowers, totaling more than $400 billion,” wrote Pittman in his ruling. “And after interpreting the HEROES Act, the Court held that it did not provide ‘clear congressional authorization’. for the program proposed by the secretary.”
The Justice Department said it would appeal the decision.
“We strongly disagree” with the decision, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement late Thursday night.
“This president and administration are determined to help work and middle-class Americans rise again, while our opponents — backed by extreme Republican special interests — are suing to block millions of Americans from getting the relief they need,” the statement read. in part.
Thursday’s order is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the Biden administration’s program, which launched in October. The White House said last week that nearly 26 million Americans have provided information to the Department of Education to potentially have their debt forgiven.
“This ruling upholds the rule of law that requires all Americans to have their voices heard by their federal government,” said Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network Foundation, in a statement after the ruling. “This illegal student loan bailout effort will do nothing to address the root cause of unaffordable tuition: greedy and bloated colleges that raise tuition far more than inflation year after year while sitting on $700 billion in endowments. We hope that the court’s decision today will. lay down the basis for a real solution to the student loan crisis.”
Mr. Biden announced in August a debt relief plan, which can forgive up to $20,000 in debt for Americans making less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 per couple.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in October placed a temporary stay on the program in response to an emergency motion brought by lawyers for several Republican-led states after a lower court ruled that.to stop the debt forgiveness program lacked standing.