PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit today against the Biden administration to stop its illegal student loan cancellation program. The lawsuit challenges the president’s authority, through the Department of Education, to unilaterally cancel more than $500 billion in student loan debt without congressional approval. The president’s action is contrary to several recent United States Supreme Court decisions striking down federal agencies’ assertion of power never granted to them by Congress.
“This mass debt forgiveness program is fundamentally unfair, unconstitutional, and unwise,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “The question Americans need to be asking is why college costs so much in the first place.”
Under its mass debt cancellation program, the Biden administration wants to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 of student loan debt for people who make less than $125,000 annually, or $250,000 annually for a married person filing jointly.
The Biden administration does not have the authority to cancel student debt. Despite being told by members of congress he cannot pursue such an action, Biden is relying on the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act (HEROES Act) and the COVID-19 pandemic. The HEROES Act was a response to the September 11th attacks to relieve active-duty personnel from financial hardship while defending our nation. The act also includes individuals who reside in disaster areas affected by a national emergency. The president attempts to stretch the HEROES Act to assert authority over all borrowers in the country, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency and the entire United States as a disaster area.
The HEROES Act additionally requires that any action by the Department of Education to “modify or waive” loan requirements must ensure that borrowers are not placed in a worse position financially if not for the “national emergency.” However, several federal loan borrowers have not suffered in relation to their loans. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education has suspended all payment obligations and applied 0% interest.
Brnovich’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona on Thursday. Arizona is asking the court to declare the mass debt cancellation unconstitutional and otherwise not in accordance with the law.