Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Key Component of Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan

Jimmy Williams

A federal judge on Monday temporarily halted the Education Department from providing additional loan forgiveness under President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan. This order affects the income-driven repayment plan known as SAVE, which was created following the Supreme Court’s rejection of Biden’s broader pandemic-era debt relief initiative.

The temporary block came after several states sued, challenging the SAVE plan. U.S. District Judge John A. Ross issued the injunction, stating, “The Biden administration is preliminarily enjoined from any further loan forgiveness for borrowers under the Final Rule’s SAVE plan until such time as this Court can decide the case on the merits.”

The SAVE plan emerged after the Supreme Court dismissed Biden’s earlier effort to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student debt for 43 million borrowers. Judge Ross also denied the administration’s motion to dismiss the case, agreeing with the states that the Secretary of Education may have overstepped statutory authority.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey praised the ruling, saying, “By attempting to saddle working Missourians with Ivy League debt, Joe Biden is undermining our constitutional structure. Only Congress has the power of the purse, not the President.”

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin added, “With Independence Day fast approaching, another court has reminded President Biden that he is not a king. He can’t go around Congress and unilaterally cancel student loans.”

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach echoed these sentiments, stating, “The loan forgiveness plan is not only unconstitutional, it’s unfair. Blue collar Kansas workers who didn’t go to college shouldn’t have to pay off the student loans of New Yorkers with gender studies degrees.”

The lawsuit involves seven states: Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma. They argued that the program violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. Judge Ross allowed parts of the SAVE plan that lower monthly payments and limit interest accrual to continue, noting these provisions benefit borrowers and do not harm the states.

In a related case, U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree issued an injunction against parts of the SAVE plan set to go into effect on July 1. While Kansas and ten other states failed to show irreparable harm from existing provisions, they demonstrated harm from upcoming ones. His order will take effect on Sunday night, providing time for appeals.

These states contended that the SAVE plan violated the Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act, citing losses in state tax revenue due to student loan forgiveness provisions.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the rulings, stating, “We strongly disagree with today’s rulings on our SAVE Plan and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the SAVE Plan.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona highlighted that the department has relied on the Higher Education Act to implement income-driven repayment plans for over 30 years. The Justice Department declined to comment on the rulings.

Despite these setbacks, the Biden administration has forgiven substantial amounts under the SAVE plan. Last month, officials announced $613 million in debt relief for over 54,000 borrowers. Overall, 4.75 million people have benefited from debt cancellation actions, with $167 billion in loan forgiveness approved across all administrative actions.

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