Five former education secretaries, 128 House Republicans and 43 senators said in amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that the Biden administration doesn’t have the authority to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans for eligible Americans.
“The Biden Administration’s plan to cancel student loan debt is unprecedented,” the former education secretaries’ brief says. “Never before has a President even suggested that the Executive Branch has the authority to cancel federal student loan debt on this scale.”
Former secretaries Betsy DeVos, Margaret Spellings, Lamar Alexander, Roderick Paige and William Bennett, all of whom served under Republican presidents, signed onto that amicus brief, which argued the debt-relief plan is a violation of the constitutional separation of powers and not authorized under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003, among other points.
Twenty briefs were filed by Friday’s deadline in support of the states and the Texas residents who sued to block the administration’s debt-relief plan. Fourteen briefs in support of the administration were filed last month. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two cases Feb. 28.
“The power of the purse is one of Congress’s most potent checks against the executive branch, yet petitioners’ overly broad reading of the HEROES Act risks encroaching on that power, as well as Congress’s Article I legislative authority, by arrogating to the Secretary of Education the authority to forgive a trillion dollars in federal debt that otherwise would be owed to the Treasury,” the House Republicans’ brief says.
Among the lawmakers who signed onto the House amicus brief were all the Republicans on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California did not sign onto that brief, but high-ranking House Republicans did. Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, did sign onto the brief from Republican senators.