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Biden asks Supreme Court to lift order blocking student loan debt plan

The Biden administration formally asked the Supreme Court Friday to lift an injunction by a lower court blocking the president’s unilateral student loan debt forgiveness program. 

The Justice Department filed the request with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who handles emergency motions involving the St. Louis-based Eighth Circuit — which slapped a preliminary injunction on the bailout Monday.

The order by the three-judge panel was in response to a lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states arguing the president exceeded his authority in allowing the Department of Education to forgive up to $20,000 in federally owned student loan debt held by certain individuals.

The jurists unanimously voted to pause the program after finding that at least one state, Missouri, had standing to bring the case.  

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued in Friday’s court filing that the 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.” 

the student loan debt forgiveness program
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to lift an injunction blocking the student loan debt forgiveness program.
Getty Images for We The 45 Million

“The injunction thus frustrates the government’s ability to respond to the harmful economic consequences of a devastating pandemic with the policies it has determined are necessary,” Prelogar added.

Kavanaugh has asked the six states to respond by noon on Nov. 23. He could then decide whether to order the injunction lifted on his own, or refer the matter to the full court.

Biden’s student loan debt cancellation program, one of the 79-year-old president’s signature executive actions, has faced several lawsuits since it was announced in August. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh
Justice Brett Kavanaugh handles emergency motions involving the St. Louis-based Eighth Circuit.
AP/ J. Scott Applewhite
student loan debt
Republicans argued that Biden exceeded his authority in allowing the Department of Education to forgive up to $20,000 in federally owned student loan debt.
Getty Images for We The 45 Million

The program is also being contested in the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after a Texas judge ruled Biden had overstepped his executive authority and usurped Congress’ lawmaking powers by ordering it.

That case was brought by the conservative Jobs Creator Network Foundation on behalf of two student loan borrowers excluded from the debt cancellation plan, which promises up to $10,000 in federal student debt writeoffs 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.

As the debt relief program makes its way through the courts, the White House also faces a looming deadline on extending a more than two-year-long pause on student loan debt payments.

Monthly payments and interest collection for most federal student loans have been on pause since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House has until the end of this year to decide whether to extend the pause, which it has already done multiple times since Biden took office.

With Post wires

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