Appeals court declines to revive Biden's debt relief plan

(NewsNation) — A federal appeals court declined to revive President Joe Biden’s student debt-relief program while a lawsuit proceeds.

The debt relief plan was struck down by a federal judge in Texas earlier this month, and the administration had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of that order until the court could hear an appeal. A three-judge panel of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump appointees unanimously denied the request in a ruling issued Wednesday.

It’s one of two active legal challenges to the debt-relief program. In October, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six conservative-led states and blocked the program, a decision the administration has asked the Supreme Court to reverse.

Spirits among advocates were high when the program was announced in August, when Biden promised $10,000 in federal loan forgiveness for those making less than $125,000 and $20,000 for those making that same amount who received Pell Grants.

While the administration recently notified certain borrowers who are eligible for forgiveness, it also indicated that it cannot execute the program while the Justice Department fights legal challenges in court, leaving borrowers confused over the status of their promised debt relief. The administration has also stopped accepting applications for the program as a result.

In response to the lawsuits, Biden announced another extension of the pause on loan payments, which now runs through June 30. If the courts decide the program is legal, the payment pause will end 60 days after the Education Department is permitted to begin dispersing the relief.

“We’re not going to back down though on our fight to give families breathing room,” Biden previously said when he announced another extension to the pause on federal student loan payments. “That’s why the Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to rule on the case.”

In its filing at the Supreme Court, the White House argued the injunction “frustrates the government’s ability to respond to the harmful economic consequences of a devastating pandemic with the policies it has determined are necessary.”

The White House also noted its borrowers are being left in a state of limbo.

The Hill contributed to this report.