A handful of Republican-dominated states will ask the Supreme Court on Tuesday to permanently block the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program. The states contend that the president exceeded his legal authority when he implemented a program to cancel up to $20,000 in debt for people holding federal student loans.
While the Biden administration is aggressively defending the program in court, the president did not announce the program until August 2022, and then only under pressure from the left wing of his own party.
Ultimately, the administration concluded that it did have the authority to enact such a loan forgiveness plan under a law called the HEROES Act. Passed by Congress after the 9/11 attacks, the law is meant to ensure that federal student loan borrowers will not be economically clobbered in a national emergency, or a war or disaster. The law specifically says that when the president declares such an emergency, the secretary of education has the power to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision” governing student loan programs.
During the pandemic, the Trump and Biden administrations both invoked the law to pause student debt payments without penalties.
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