U.S. Supreme Court to hear Biden’s request to reinstate student debt plan


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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear President Joe Biden’s request to reinstate his plan to write off billions of dollars in student debt after it was blocked by a lower court in a challenge by six states that accused his administration of overstepping his authority.

An injunction issued Nov. 14 by the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the program will remain in place for the time being, as judges have delayed granting Biden’s request to lift it. immediately. But they agreed to expedite the case, saying in a brief order that they would hear arguments during their session which will run from late February to early March.

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The challenge to the Democratic president’s policies has been brought by Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina. Five of these six states are governed by Republicans while the other, Kansas, has a Republican Attorney General.

The policy runs into another legal hurdle as the administration challenges a separate Nov. 10 ruling by a Texas federal judge deeming the program illegal. The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined to stay that ruling, and the administration said it plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to to intervene.

Biden announced in August that the US government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples. Students who received Pell Grants to benefit low-income students will have up to $20,000 of their debt forgiven.

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During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to help former students in debt, but his program has drawn opposition from Republicans who argue it is unfair to those who have paid off their loans or never gone. in college and that could make inflation worse.

The Biden administration said more than 26 million borrowers have applied for loan relief and 16 million have been approved for release if cleared by the courts.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre welcomed the court’s decision to hear the case.

“This program is needed to help more than 40 million eligible Americans struggling with the burden of student debt recover from the pandemic and move forward with their lives. The program is also legal, backed by careful analysis by administration lawyers,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

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« President Biden will continue to fight efforts to deny middle-class families the relief they need and deserve, » Jean-Pierre added.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican whose office takes the lead in the challenge, said the program was beyond Biden’s authority.

« We stand firm against political exploitation by the president of our student loan program just before an election, » Peterson said in a statement.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated in September that the debt cancellation program would cost taxpayers about $400 billion.

State challengers said the federal government exceeded its power to order debt forgiveness under a 2003 law called the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, which can « revoke or modify » the financial aid for students in times of war or national emergency.

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The Biden administration justified its plan based on the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about rising defaults and falling incomes, especially among lower-income Americans. Biden and his predecessor, former Republican President Donald Trump, had invoked the law to suspend student loan repayments. On Nov. 22, Biden extended the repayment break until next June 30 at the latest to give the Supreme Court time to decide the case.

A federal judge dismissed the states’ challenge for lack of legal status, but the 8th Circuit later blocked the program.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung. Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Will Dunham)



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