AFP Foundation files comment opposing Biden Administration’s unconstitutional actions on student loans

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By Michael Pepson

May 13, 2024 | Today, Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a comment opposing the Department of Education’s proposal to use a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that authorizes it to “compromise” on or “waive” student debt on case-by-case basis for a limited subset loans to mass cancel broad swaths of student debt on a programmatic basis.

Just last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court in Biden v. Nebraska rejected the Department’s last attempt to unilaterally reorganize the nation’s student loan debt. Just as AFPF opposed the Administration’s first attempt to mass-cancel hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on the cusp of the midterm elections, AFPF’s comment urges the Department to abandon its most recent attempts to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling in Biden v. Nebraska and bulldoze statutory and constitutional limits on its powers.

As the Supreme Court made clear in Biden v. Nebraska, the Department of Education does not have unlimited power to reimagine federal student loan law however it wants. Instead, under the Constitution’s system of checks and balances, federal agencies like the Department only have those powers that Congress has constitutionally granted to them. The Constitution exclusively tasks Congress with making important public policy decisions—like what, if anything, to do about student debt—through the deliberately difficult legislative process. And it also gives Congress the power of the purse.

Here, after Congress rebuffed entreaties to pass legislation authorizing mass debt cancellation—and after the Supreme Court ruled that the Department lacks the power to do this—the Department is again seeking to unlawfully mass cancel broad swaths of debt. AFPF’s comment urges the Department to abandon its flawed proposal, stating “To the extent the Department believes mass debt cancellation to be sound public policy, it must direct its appeals to the branch of government the Constitution tasks with making such decisions: Congress.”

Read the full comment here.