Six Republican-led states on Thursday sued the Biden administration over plans to cancel student loan debt, a move the lawsuit says will hurt the working class at a time when the economy is already struggling.
“The economy is not well,” reads the lawsuit filed in federal court in Missouri. “And there is no sign of relief.”
The Biden administration announced in August plans to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 of student debt per borrower for those who make less than $125,000 a year — or $250,000 for married couples.
“In addition to being economically unwise and downright unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is yet another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions. No statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed,” reads the 36-page lawsuit.
The attorneys general from Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Missouri and Kansas are asking the court to pause the action, arguing the proposal exceeds presidential authority and would violate the Constitution and federal law. Iowa joined the lawsuit through its Republican governor.
The administration, meanwhile, has reasoned it has authority under a federal law allowing the feds to cancel certain debt during times of emergency.
A spokesperson from the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Borrowers will be able to apply for the forgiveness in October.
But the coalition of attorneys general and Iowa’s governor say hardworking Americans will pay the price.
“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who led the lawsuit.
“The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”
It’s the second legal battle the feds are facing over the president’s plan this week. The other lawsuit was filed by an advocacy group.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Biden administration announced it would be scaling back its forgiveness plans, excluding borrowers that have privately held loans.
The change is expected to impact a few million borrowers who have federal loans held by private entities.
“Our goal is to provide relief to as many eligible borrowers as quickly and easily as possible, and this will allow us to achieve that goal while we continue to explore additional legally available options to provide relief to borrowers with privately owned FFEL loans and Perkins loans, including whether FFEL borrowers could receive one-time debt relief without needing to consolidate,” an Education Department spokesperson told Politico, referring to the Federal Family Education Loan Program.