Six states sue Biden to block student loan forgiveness as illegal, hurtful to working class

Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina argue Congress did not authorize such debt cancellation, meaning Biden lacked legal authority to take the action he announced last month.

Updated: September 29, 2022 - 1:25pm

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Six Republican states on Thursday sued President Joe Biden to block his planned cancellation of hundreds of billion of dollars of student loan debt, arguing it was unlawful and harmful to working-class Americans.

Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Missouri that Congress did not authorize such debt cancellation, meaning Biden lacked legal authority to take the action he announced last month.

They cited the recent Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency that concluded the executive branch cannot make law where Congress hasn't legislated.

"No statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed," the states argued. "Just months ago, the Supreme Court warned federal agencies against “asserting highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted” by statute."

The states also argued the U.S. "economy is not well" and the cancellation of the debt, estimated to cost at least $400 billion, will add to inflationary pressures, adding more harm to the country's middle- and working-classes and poor Americans.

"The burden of the economic loss and price increases will hit those who can least afford it – the working class and the poor," the lawsuit argued, adding that those who benefit from Biden's plan are in the top 60% of income earners. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge explained why the states banded together to file the lawsuit.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” she said. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”