Another Blow to Biden’s Student Loan Debt Relief Policy

A second federal appeals court rejected a Biden administration bid to put on hold a ruling blocking the student debt relief policy. 

A federal appeals court on Wednesday declined to put on hold a Texas judge’s ruling that said President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt was unlawful.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Biden administration’s request to pause a judge’s Nov. 10 order vacating the $400 billion student debt relief program in a lawsuit pursued by a conservative advocacy group.

The ruling in Texas was one of two nationally that prevented the Department of Education from moving forward with student debt relief. It means the Justice Department may soon take the case to the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court is already considering a separate request from the Biden administration that it reverses an order of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the loan forgiveness program.

The administration has asked the Supreme Court to lift an order by the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that, at the request of six Republican-led states, had barred it from canceling student loans.

This week’s ruling was made by two Republicans and one Democrat. One was a George W. Bush appointee, another a Barack Obama appointee, and the final a Donald Trump appointee.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Biden administration began notifying people who are approved for federal student loan relief, even as the future of that relief remains in limbo since lower courts blocked the program nationwide. 

The emails from the Department of Education to borrowers acknowledged recent legal challenges have kept the administration from discharging the debt.

Biden’s program would offer up to $20,000 of debt relief to millions of qualified borrowers, but it has been met with legal challenges.

About 26 million people had applied for student loan relief prior to the recent court decisions with 16 million of those applications being approved.

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