President Joe Biden on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if he has the authority to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans.
The request comes as the program was put on hold following a ruling from a federal judge. The emergency appeal asks the justices to rule on the issue so more than 40 million people can have at least a portion of their student loan debt forgiven.
According to the request, Biden claims he has the authority to issue the forgiveness under the HEROES Act, a bill passed in 2003 that gave the government the authority to respond to conditions in a national emergency declared by the president.
The administration claims that the COVID-19 pandemic qualified as a national emergency that has allowed the forgiveness of student loan debt.
Rulings in two suits have led to the pause in the program. One was brought by six states and argued the forgiveness program threatens the states’ future tax revenues. The other came from the Job Creators Network Foundation and alleges the administration violated federal procedures by denying borrowers the opportunity to provide public comment on the program.
Biden announced in August that his administration would forgive $10,000 of student debt for people making less than $125,000 and an additional $10,000 for those who received Pell Grants.
An estimated 40 million people would be eligible for the plan, which has an estimated cost of around $400 billion.
Over the past few days, the Department of Education sent out notices to millions of borrowers, telling them they have been approved for student loan forgiveness under the program.
However, since the program was put on hold amid the legal challenges, no one has received any loan forgiveness.
The administration is reportedly considering an extension of the student loan repayment pause. The pause is set to expire on Dec. 31.
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