Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Washington D.C.: Six states have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to block President Joe Biden's plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt, as they claimed this exceeded his authority.

The six states are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina, with five of the six being Republican governed while the other, Kansas, has a Republican attorney-general.

In their filings, the states argued that the Biden's administration is trying to "assert power far beyond anything Congress could have conceived."

The Biden administration, however, stressed that the decision made on 14th November to cancel the student debt will aid millions of economically vulnerable borrowers. It is also contesting a ruling made by a federal judge in Texas on 10th November, which found the program unlawful.

In August, Biden announced that the U.S. government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples, fulfilling a promise made by Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

A 2003 law, known as the "Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act," allows the government to modify or waive federal student loans during war or national emergencies.

Several legal challenges have been filed contesting Biden's authority to cancel the debt, but the administration has argued that the COVID-19 pandemic was a qualifying emergency.

The states challenging the program have denounced the administration's argument, stressing, in their filing that the law is meant to keep borrowers from falling into a worse financial position, while the government "uses it here to place tens of millions of borrowers in a better position by cancelling their loans en masse."

Expressing confidence in the legality of his plan, this week Biden extended a pause in student loan repayments that began during the COVID-19 pandemic and is scheduled to continue until 30th June, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to make a decision.

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