WASHINGTON DC — The Justice Department told an appeals court on Monday that the Biden administration should be allowed to carry out its student debt relief program while litigation over the policy unfolds.
In a new brief filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which contemplates a challenge to the program by six Republican-led states, the administration defended the policy while arguing that there were serious procedural flaws. in the case of challengers.
The Justice Department said the challenge was “based on speculation about possible downstream economic effects.”
A district court dismissed the Republican States’ case last week, finding that the States had failed to demonstrate that they would suffer direct harm from the policy that would warrant judicial intervention. After an appeal from the challengers, the 8th Circuit on Friday suspended the policy, barring the Biden administration from canceling any loans under the program while the appeals court considered the states’ emergency request asking the court to get involved.
In its Monday brief, the Justice Department wrote that U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona acted within his authority in rolling out the policy, telling the court that “the Secretary reasonably deemed it necessary to ‘exercise its HEROES Act authority to prevent pandemic damage to low-income student loan borrowers.
“Congress could hardly have expressed more clearly its intention to give the Secretary maximum flexibility to ensure that borrowers are not in a more difficult financial situation due to a national emergency, and the Secretary has complied with the clear terms of the law,” the DOJ wrote.
Following the ruling, the White House and Cardona encouraged borrowers to continue seeking relief despite the suspension, with Cardona pledging on Saturday to continue to “move full speed ahead” on plans to implement the program. debt relief.
A response from GOP-led states is expected on Tuesday.
The Biden administration also faces lawsuits from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and conservative groups such as the Job Creators Network Foundation and the Cato Institute.
Numerous legal challenges claim the Biden administration lacks the legal authority to write off student loan debt broadly.
Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, first announced in August, aims to provide debt relief for millions of borrowers before federal student loan repayments resume in January after a nearly three-year pause related to the pandemic.
Under Biden’s plan, eligible individual borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of households who earned less than $250,000 a year in those years will see up to to $10,000 of their canceled federal student loan debt.
If an eligible borrower also received a Federal Pell Grant while enrolled in college, they are eligible for debt forgiveness of up to $20,000.