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Federal Judge Halts Student Loan Forgiveness Program

A US district judge rules that President Biden overstepped his executive powers and blocks the controversial program's implementation.
Federal Judge Halts Student Loan Forgiveness Program

A federal judge in Texas on Thursday struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, delivering a victory to a conservative advocacy group that sued to halt the plan, reports the Washington Post.

Federal judge in Texas strikes down Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan (Washington Post)

Excerpt from the Washington Post: The Job Creators Network Foundation filed a lawsuit in October on behalf of a borrower who does not qualify for the full $20,000 in debt relief and one who is ineligible altogether. The suit alleges the administration violated federal procedures by denying borrowers the opportunity to provide public comment before unveiling the program. U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman, who was appointed by Donald Trump, declared the policy unlawful in the Thursday order. "In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone," Pittman wrote in his order. "Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government." Pittman’s order comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit last month granted a temporary stay against the loan forgiveness program in a separate lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states.
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According to Axios, the Department of Education removed the application for Biden's student debt relief program from its website. "Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program," the application website reads. "As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders."

Student debt relief applications pulled from Dept. of Education website (Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: The move comes after a federal judge in Texas struck down the debt relief program Thursday. The Biden administration said later Thursday that it's appealing the ruling of the Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman. The judge declared the program illegal after a lawsuit alleged the administration violated federal procedures by denying borrowers an opportunity to provide public comment before launching the plan. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court also temporarily blocked the debt relief program in a suit brought on by six Republican states. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has already turned down two other requests to block the program amid a growing number of legal challenges against the plan.
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"We strongly disagree with the District Court's ruling on our student debt relief program," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said. "The President and this Administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents – backed by extreme Republican special interests – sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief," writes NPR.

A federal judge calls student loan relief unlawful, deepening limbo for borrowers (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: The White House confirmed that it had already appealed the decision. That appeal will go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a reputation as the most conservative of all federal appeals courts. From there, another appeal would land this case at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has so far refused to hear challenges to Biden's relief plan. Borrowers likely won't have a final answer on debt relief for weeks. Meanwhile, student loan payments are set to resume in January. Back in September, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told NPR he hoped to process as many debt relief applications as possible before that payment pause ends on Jan. 1. Thursday's decision makes it unlikely the department will reach that goal. President Biden announced on Nov. 3 that close to 26 million Americans had provided the necessary information to the Education Department to qualify for relief and that the department was already on track to approve cancellation for 16 million borrowers.
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