Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said the Biden administration is “moving at full speed” with preparations to implement its student debt forgiveness program, a day after a federal appeals court interrupted the government’s efforts.
Cardona said in a video posted Saturday that the administration is “not deterred” by lawsuits seeking to block its utility.
in a opinion piece Cardona, published Saturday in USA Today, said the Department of Education is “continuing at full speed with preparations for legal implementation” of the program.
“President Biden and this administration will never stop fighting for the millions of hardworking students and borrowers across the country — no matter how many elected officials or lawsuits try to stop us,” Cardona wrote. “This program will help borrowers by providing relief after the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.”
On Friday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals halted implementation of the government’s program as it considered an appeal from officials in six GOP-led states who had their lawsuits against the program dismissed by a federal judge last week.
The ruling was made just days after the government began accepting applications from borrowers to cancel as much as $20,000 in loans.
Cardona also tapped into arguments from the six GOP-led states, who claimed the government’s program was illegal. The education secretary noted the same GOP attorneys general and officials were not against the forgiveness of billions of dollars in pandemic loans to their state’s business owners, nor trillions in tax cuts for the highest-earning companies under the Trump administration.
“It’s only when the emergency aid goes to working and middle-class Americans that these elected officials have a problem,” Cardona wrote.
In response to Friday’s appeals court ruling, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized that the appeals court ruling does not prevent borrowers from applying for loan forgiveness.
“It is also important to note that the injunction does not reverse the court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case is well founded. It only prevents debts from being forgiven until the court has made a decision,” she said in a statement. “We will continue at full speed with our preparations in accordance with this order. And the administration will continue to fight Republican officials who are blocking our efforts to provide assistance to working families.”
The appeals court ruling came a day after Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett dismissed a separate lawsuit by a Wisconsin taxpayer group that tried to stop the implementation of Biden’s plan.
The president announced his program in August to forgive up to $10,000 for borrowers and up to $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants. Those who earn less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for couples filing joint taxes, are eligible.
Announcing the program, Biden said an “entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for an attempt, at least, at a college degree,” adding that the “burden is so heavy that even if you graduate, you might don’t have access to a middle-class life that once offered a college degree.”
The impartial Congressional Budget Office estimates the program could cost about $400 billion. At the end of June, 43 million borrowers had $1.6 trillion in federal student loans said.