by Stacy M. Brown NNPA Senior Correspondent
In a filing sent to the U.S. Supreme Court this week, the Department of Justice agreed with President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans.
In 2022, the president promised to forgive all outstanding student loan debt for millions of borrowers, up to a maximum of $20,000 each.
Republicans are leading the way in suing the federal government to stop the plan. The Department of Justice, however, said last week in a court filing that Biden’s actions are perfectly legal.
Lawyers from the Department of Justice said that Congress gave the president “clear permission” to go ahead with his plan.
A federal judge in Texas invalidated a program in October that would have helped 40 million people with their student loan debt. Two people who didn’t qualify for aid under Biden’s scheme sued the initiative on behalf of the conservative Job Creators Network Foundation.
At the time, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the government strongly disagreed.
“The President and this Administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents, backed by extremist Republican special interests, have sued to prohibit millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief,” Jean-Pierre remarked.
The HEROES Act of 2003, according to the White House, gives the Secretary of Education the authority to forgive student debt. “The program is consequently an illegal exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump nominee.
“In this country, we are not dominated by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he continued.
Federal student loan debt of up to $10,000 will be forgiven for borrowers with yearly incomes of less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, and up to $200,000 for married couples or heads of households. Borrowers who also got a federal Pell grant might have up to $20,000 in their loans discharged.
Six states with Republican governors sued to stop Biden’s plan to forgive debts. This made the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on the plan.
One plaintiff in Texas lost her right to have her federal student loans forgiven because the federal government did not service her loans.
Since the other plaintiff did not obtain a Pell award, the amount of debt relief to which he is entitled is just $10,000. They said they had no way of voicing their disapproval of the program’s regulations because the administration had not followed the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice and comment rule-making procedure.
In February, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases. In its petition, the Justice Department said, “The lower courts’ decisions have wrongly taken away the Secretary’s legislative authority to give targeted student loan debt relief to borrowers affected by national emergencies.”