The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a serious blow to the Biden administration on Friday, temporarily halting the implementation of President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program.
The federal appeals court granted a request by officials from six Republican-led states after the lawsuit against the program was dismissed by a lower federal court previously on Thursday and just days after the Biden administration began accepting applications from borrowers to cancel as much as $20,000 in loans.
The program that Biden announced in August intends to forgive up to $10,000 for borrowers, and up to $20,000 for Pell Grants receivers who earn less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for couples who file taxes jointly.
Officials in Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina filed lawsuits last month in an effort to block implementation of the program arguing that the administration is going beyond what Congress intended to authorize, stressing that the law invoked by its officials does not allow for the program’s debt cancellation.
The attempt by a Wisconsin taxpayers’ group to halt the implementation of Biden’s program was rejected on Thursday by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
The court’s one-page ruling that hit pause on the Biden administration’s efforts prohibits any student loan debt to be discharged under the program until it rules on the appeal, giving the Biden administration until Monday to respond.
Commenting on the appeals court’s decision, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized that it does not prevent borrowers from submitting applications for loan forgiveness, noting that it merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court decides.
She said in a statement that the Biden administration will continue to move full speed ahead in its preparations in compliance with this order and its fight against GOP officials that are suing to block the efforts to provide relief to working families.