Judge dismisses efforts to stop student loan forgiveness

Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina tried to block the Biden administration’s plan to forgive millions of Americans on student loan debt.

ST. LOUIS – A federal judge on Thursday dismissed an attempt by six Republican-run states to The Biden administration’s plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans.

US District Judge Henry Autrey in St. Louis wrote that because the six states — Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina — have failed to establish their standing to sue, “the court has no jurisdiction to hear this case.”

Suzanne Gage, spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, said states would appeal. She said in a statement that states “continue to believe that they do indeed have the right to raise their important legal challenges.”

Democratic President Joe Biden announced in August that his administration would forgive a large number of borrowers up to $20,000 in educational debt. The announcement immediately became a major political issue before November midterm elections.

That lawsuit of the states is among the few that have been submitted. Earlier Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected an appeal by a Wisconsin taxpayer group try to stop the debt relief program.

RELATED: Judge Barrett Denies Appeal Over Biden Student Debt Scheme

Barrett, who oversees emergency appeals from Wisconsin and neighboring states, did not comment on denying the Brown County Taxpayers Association’s appeal. The group wrote in its Supreme Court filing that it needed an emergency order because the administration could begin canceling outstanding student debt as early as Sunday.

In the lawsuit filed by the states, attorneys for the administration said the Department of Education has “wide powers to administer federal student financial assistance programs.” A court filing states that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, or HEROES Act, allows the Secretary of Education to waive or modify the terms of federal student loans in times of war or a national emergency.

“COVID-19 is such an emergency,” the filing reads.

The Congressional Budget Office has announced that the program will cost about $400 billion over the next three decades. James Campbell, an attorney for the Nebraska attorney general’s office, told Autrey at an Oct. 12 hearing that the government is acting outside of its agencies in ways that will cost states millions of dollars.

The plan would eliminate $10,000 in student loan debt for those earning less than $125,000 or households earning less than $250,000. Pell Grant recipients, who typically have higher financial needs, receive an additional $10,000 in debt relief.

Conservative attorneys, Republican lawmakers and pro-business groups have claimed Biden exceeded his powers by taking sweeping measures without congressional approval. They called it an unfair government giveaway to relatively wealthy people at the expense of taxpayers not pursuing higher education.

Chris Nuelle, spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, said the plan will “unfairly burden working-class families with even more economic woes.”

Many Democratic lawmakers facing tough re-election battles have distanced themselves from the plan.

The HEROES Act was enacted after 9/11 to help members of the military. The Justice Department says the law allows Biden to reduce or repay student loan debt during a national emergency. Republicans argue the government is misinterpreting the law, in part because the pandemic no longer qualifies as a national emergency.

Justice Department Attorney Brian Netter told Autrey the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is still making waves. He said student loan defaults have skyrocketed over the past 2 1/2 years.

The termination applies to federal student loans used to attend elementary and high schools, as well as Parent Plus loans. Current college students qualify if their loans are paid off before July 1st.

The plan makes 43 million borrowers eligible for some debt relief, with 20 million eligible for full debt relief, according to the administration.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/judge-dismisses-effort-to-halt-student-loan-forgiveness/507-58aabee8-4222-46e6-93f5-a594a394267f Judge dismisses efforts to stop student loan forgiveness

Laura Coffey

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