US judge declares debt relief plan for Biden students illegal

A federal judge in the United States ruled that President Joe Biden’s debt relief plan was illegal and had to be vacated.


Washington,UPDATED: November 11, 2022 08:39 IST

File photo of US President Joe Biden | Reuters

By Reuters: A federal judge in Texas ruled on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans was illegal and had to be vacated, marking a victory for conservative opponents of the program.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump in Fort Worth, called the program an “unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ legislature” as he ruled in favor of two borrowers backed by a conservative government. interest group.

The White House did not immediately comment.

The debt relief plan has already been temporarily blocked by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis as it considers a request from six Republican-led states to impose it as they appeal the dismissal of their own lawsuit. .

The judge’s ruling came in a lawsuit by two borrowers who were partially or completely ineligible for the loan forgiveness Biden’s plan offered. The plaintiffs argued that it did not follow proper regulatory procedures and was illegal.

The borrowers were supported by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy group founded by Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of Home Depot (HD.N).

Biden’s plan has been the subject of several lawsuits by conservative state attorneys general and legal groups, but plaintiffs before Thursday struggled to convince courts that they were harmed by it in a way that entitles them to prosecution.

The plan, announced in August, calls for the waiver of up to $10,000 in student loans for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples. Borrowers who have received Pell Grants to help lower-income students will be forgiven up to $20,000 of their debt.

The unbiased Congressional Budget Office calculated in September that debt forgiveness would eliminate about $430 billion of the $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt and more than 40 million people would qualify for benefits.

In his 26-page statement, Pittman said it was irrelevant whether Biden’s plan was good public policy because the program was “one of the largest exercises of legislature without congressional authority in United States history.”

Pittman wrote that the HEROES Act — a law that provides loans to military personnel and which the Biden administration relied on to implement the emergency plan — did not allow the $400 billion student loan forgiveness program.

“In this country we are not ruled by an all-powerful director with a pen and a telephone,” Pittman wrote. “Instead, we are governed by a constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.”

Elaine Parker, the chairman of the Job Creators Network Foundation, said in a statement that the ruling “protects the rule of law that requires all Americans to have their voices heard by their federal government.”

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