The Supreme Court ruled that the administration’s decision to offer student debt forgiveness bypassed Congress’ authority to make spending laws. In a 6-3 decision, the majority of conservative justices effectively ended President Joe Biden’s $400 billion plan, leaving borrowers responsible for repaying their loans.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has reported that the Supreme Court’s decision will lower the U.S. deficit by almost $400 billion, resulting in an estimated annual savings of $30 billion for taxpayers over the next ten years.
Maya MacGuineas, President of the CRFB, stated that the cancellation plan was costly, inflationary, poorly targeted, and would not have improved the affordability of higher education. The CRFB hopes that this ruling will discourage future presidents from implementing expensive unilateral actions without Congressional input.
According to the court ruling, the administration requires Congress’ approval before implementing an expensive program. The majority of the Court dismissed the argument that the HEROES Act, a bipartisan law from 2003 related to student loans, granted President Biden the power he asserted.
The decision made by the justices in the case of Biden v. Nebraska was celebrated by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, as it means that the state will not lose $44 million from its coffers.
In an ironic twist, the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts quoted former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stating that the COVID-era HEROES Act did not grant President Biden the authority to cancel student loan debt unilaterally. Roberts highlighted that the Act allowed the Secretary of Education to waive or modify existing provisions, not rewrite the entire statute.
Pelosi had previously acknowledged that the PresidentPresident does not possess the power to forgive the debt and that it should be an act of Congress. Despite Pelosi’s initial reservations, she later appeared to support Biden’s efforts to cancel student debt.
Roberts also emphasized the struggles faced by individuals who didn’t take out student loans. He gave an example of a high school graduate who decided to start a lawn-care business but had to borrow money to do so, while their classmate opted to attend college by taking out a student loan.
“Nobody is telling the person who is trying to set up the lawn-service business that he does not have to pay his loan,” Roberts said, “even though his tax dollars are” subsidizing his classmate.
Biden expressed his disagreement with the Court’s decision to reject the student debt relief plan and promised to continue searching for alternative ways to provide relief to hardworking middle-class families.
Some progressive lawmakers are urging President Biden to explore alternative legal means to grant student loan forgiveness. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal supporter of debt cancellation, is among those calling for further action. She believes that the fight is far from over and that the President has other tools at his disposal to tackle this issue.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, student loan payments will resume in October, as announced on the Federal Student Aid website.