(trendingpoliticsnews) – Following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of his student-loan forgiveness plan, President Biden promptly proposed an alternative solution. On Friday, he announced his intention to implement a separate student debt-relief initiative under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
“Today’s decision has closed one path. Now we’re going to pursue another,” Biden said from the White House. “We will use every tool at our disposal to get you the student debt relief you need and reach your dreams.”
Prior to the SCOTUS decision, prominent Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, had repeatedly encouraged Biden to consider this option in the event of the Supreme Court dismissing his original student loan relief program.
The President acknowledged that this alternative approach will likely require a longer implementation period. To provide immediate relief, Biden revealed a provisional plan designed to assist those who may struggle with bill payments when loan repayments resume in October after a three-year suspension.
The President’s proposed temporary solution is a 12-month “on-ramp repayment program” aimed at protecting numerous borrowers from defaulting on their loans.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Biden confirmed his commitment to student debt relief. He assured that his administration would utilize every available resource to aid in the fulfillment of the dreams of indebted students.
The President’s original student debt forgiveness plan relied on the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities Act. This Act mandates an existing emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as a prerequisite for student loan debt cancellation.
In contrast, the Higher Education Act does not necessitate such conditions and has been previously employed to nullify student debt in certain cases. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump used this Act to eliminate student loan debt for 25,000 disabled veterans. Also, last year, the Department of Education forgave $6 billion in loans for students who had been defrauded.
However, employing the Higher Education Act to create a relief plan may be a time-consuming task, primarily due to the lengthy rule-making process and comment period that could extend approximately a year. This process potentially postpones any prospective relief until at least 2024, with legal challenges from opponents potentially extending this delay even further.
During a news briefing on Friday, Biden acknowledged that understanding how to handle these expenses could be a slow process for borrowers. He emphasized the importance of preventing borrowers from slipping into delinquency and default, which could have adverse implications for them and the economy.
While Biden did not directly criticize the Supreme Court in his address, he did highlight other student loan initiatives that remained unchallenged in court. These include the increase in Pell Grants for low- and middle-income students and an income-driven repayment plan that could lower monthly payments and offer some loan forgiveness.
The president conceded Thursday, however, that the current court would probably continue to issue adverse rulings, but reiterated his opposition to adding justices to the nine-member body.
“I think they may do too much harm,” Biden said of the court during an interview with MSNBC.
“But I think, if we start the process of trying to expand the court, we’re going to politicize it, maybe forever, in a way that is not healthy.”
Instead, the president and some of his allies have begun to frame the 2024 election as an existential battle to preserve fundamental rights — not only from a Republican opponent but also from powerful jurists with lifetime appointments.
Despite setbacks in the 2022 midterms, several Republican candidates appear eager to engage in a political debate over the courts, an institution that has long animated conservative voters because of its far-reaching impact on cultural issues.