Biden extends moratorium on student loans as relief plan faces legal challenges

President Biden extended the federal moratorium on student loan repayments Tuesday, a bid to buy some time for his polarizing push to unilaterally wipe billions in debt as it faces legal challenges.

In a video statement, Biden said he is “confident” that the plan is legal and said the extension would give the Supreme Court “time to hear the case in its current term.”

Biden extends loan moratorium

Biden indicated the extension through June 30 would be the last, saying payments would resume 60 days once the pause ends. He complained that meddlesome Republican “special interests” were getting in the way of his plan and said it isn’t “fair” to expect borrowers to repay their loans.

“It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit,” Biden said.

“Deeply unfair”

Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also called it “deeply unfair” to ask borrowers who haven’t had to pay their loans for more than two years to now repay them, all because of “baseless” Republican lawsuits.

The administration’s move has proven polarizing, with opponents saying it’s a handout that non-college graduates will pay for in their taxes but not benefit from. Biden made clear he views the matter differently, saying he will “never apologize” for trying to buy votes using other people’s money.

“I’m never going to apologize for helping working class and middle class families recover from the economic crisis created by the pandemic,” he said.

Biden plans to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower, costing taxpayers at least $400 billion. The pause has already cost taxpayers $100 billion since it was introduced in March 2020 by President Trump at the height of the COVID pandemic.

On hold

The administration claims that a law called the HEROES Act gives Biden sweeping authority to wipe debt during an “emergency,” that emergency being COVID. But Biden has also undermined this pretext by saying that the pandemic is “over.”

Biden has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a nationwide injunction from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal judge in Texas has also blocked Biden’s move, saying he unlawfully circumvented Congress.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government,” Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, wrote.