Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Thursday filed a lawsuit to block the Biden administration’s decision to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans.
Brnovich, a Republican, said Biden acted without congressional approval and his action conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have reined in federal agencies from taking actions not authorized by Congress. His lawsuit targets President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
“This mass debt forgiveness program is fundamentally unfair, unconstitutional, and unwise,” Brnovich said. “The question Americans need to be asking is why college costs so much in the first place.”
President Biden announced his administration would cancel $10,000 to $20,000 in student loan debt for people making less than $125,000 each year individually or $250,000 as a family. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Biden’s plan would cost the government $400 billion, but Brnovich and others have said the costs could soar even higher.
Republicans have stressed that Biden’s move doesn’t cancel the debt but rather moves that debt onto the government’s books and puts taxpayers on the hook for that amount. The GOP more broadly has argued that high rates of federal spending and taking on new debt are actions that have contributed to high levels of inflation that have plagued consumers over the last year.
The White House has said the loan handout is paid for by deficit reduction that was already on track before the handout was announced.
Brnovich’s filing at the U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona notes that Biden used the COVID pandemic to legally justify his decision to have the government take on student loan debt. But it also noted that Biden this month said in an interview that “the pandemic is over.”
“Despite the President’s repeated assertion that the ‘pandemic is over,’ the Administration still views the pandemic is still a useful pretext to adopt policies that would otherwise be incontestably illegal,” Brnovich argued. “So it is here. Defendants are seizing upon the pandemic that they otherwise acknowledge is over to attempt to execute the most expensive stroke of a pen in the history of this nation.”
The filing claims Biden exceeded his authority, made arbitrary decisions about the amount of loan relief, and violated the Constitution by ignoring the right of Congress to set spending priorities. It asked the court to issue an order declaring Biden’s move as a violation and prohibit its enforcement.
Earlier this week, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation sued the Department of Education over the debt forgiveness plan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.