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Federal appeals court blocks student debt relief program nationwide

 UPI News logo: MainLogo UPI News 11/14/2022 Adam Schrader
President Joe Biden delivers an update on the student debt relief portal beta test in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on Oct. 17. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI © Bonnie Cash/UPI President Joe Biden delivers an update on the student debt relief portal beta test in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on Oct. 17. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Nov. 14 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Monday issued an injunction blocking President Joe Biden's student debt relief program nationwide.

In August, Biden announced that the White House planned to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 annually and $20,000 for recipients of Pell grants, which assist students from lower-income families.

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis comes after six Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, arguing that the Education Department breached the separation of powers, violated the Administrative Procedure Act and overstepped the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act -- also known as the HEROES Act.

The HEROES Act allows the Education Secretary to "waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs under title IV of the Act as the secretary deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency."

The states -- Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina -- had appealed after U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis had dismissed the lawsuit for a lack of standing. The states also sought an emergency order for injunctive relief to block the program at the time.

The appeals court then issued an order granting a stay in the case on Oct. 21, temporarily blocking the program at that time pending the decision of the court on the motion for injunctive relief.

The court decided Monday to grant the emergency motion for an injunction pending an appeal, cementing that temporary block on the program until a further order is given from the appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the court documents.

"We conclude that, at this stage of the litigation, an injunction limited to the plaintiff States, or even more broadly to student loans affecting the States, would be impractical and would fail to provide complete relief to the plaintiffs," the decision reads.

The appeals court said that Missouri had demonstrated that it likely has the standing to pursue its appeal after arguing that the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, a major loan servicer in the state, would lose revenue under the plan.

"And since at least one party likely has standing, we need not address the standing of the other states," the court documents read.

The appeals court panel added that, whatever the eventual outcome of the case, "it will affect the finances of millions of Americans with student loan debt as well as those Americans who pay taxes to finance the government and indeed everyone who is affected by such far-reaching fiscal decisions."

 

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