by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration is pushing forward on multiple fronts in its battle to see through a $500 billion student debt transfer.
Two separate courts have blocked the program, which President Joe Biden attempted to implement without congressional approval on Aug. 24, and the White House is now appealing to the Supreme Court for help while extending the student loans repayment pause for at least another six months.
“As Americans continue to recover from the pandemic, my administration has been working to provide student debt relief to millions of working- and middle-class families across the country,” Biden said in a video about the latest pause extension. “But Republican special interests and elected officials sued to deny this relief even from their own constituents. But I’m completely confident my plan is legal.”
The federal student loan repayment pause dates to March 2020, when then-President Donald Trump implemented it along with a wave of other COVID-19-related policies. The latest extension is Biden’s sixth since taking office and could see the pause last until Aug. 30, three and a half years after its initial implementation.
Biden promised the last pause extension would be the final one. That news came in conjunction with a loan “forgiveness” announcement of up to $20,000 for some borrowers. However, with the forgiveness program looking vulnerable to being struck down in court, the Biden administration is pushing the pause back once again.
On the political side, administration officials have heavily criticized Republicans for the legal setbacks. College-educated voters have emerged as a reliably Democratic bloc in recent elections.
“We’re extending the payment pause because it would be deeply unfair to ask borrowers to pay a debt that they wouldn’t have to pay, were it not for the baseless lawsuits brought by Republican officials and special interests,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.