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Over half of the House GOP and nearly all Senate Republicans signed briefs urging the Supreme Court to block Biden's student-loan forgiveness

By Ayelet Sheffey,

2023-02-03
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Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
  • On Friday, 128 of the 222 House Republicans signed onto an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to block student-debt relief.
  • It came alongside a separate brief filed by 43 GOP senators opposing the relief.
  • They both argued that Biden doesn't have the authority to cancel student debt using the HEROES Act of 2003.

Conservatives have been flooding the Supreme Court docket urging it to block President Joe Biden's student-loan forgiveness — and hundreds of GOP lawmakers just joined the cause.

On Friday, 128 House Republicans signed onto an amicus curiae brief urging the nation's highest court to block Biden's plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers. That's just over half of the GOP composition in the House, with 222 Republicans holding a slim majority in that chamber.

Signers also included 25 Republican lawmakers on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, led by Chair Virginia Foxx, who has been a vocal opponent of broad student-loan forgiveness. She said in a statement alongside the brief that the "administration is bypassing Congress, which is elected by the American people to protect their interests."

"Congress is the only body with the authority to enact sweeping and fundamental changes of this nature, and it is ludicrous for President Biden to assume he can simply bypass the will of the American people," Foxx said.

Notably, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy did not sign onto the brief, but Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Majority Whip Tom Emmer were among the signatories.

Biden's plan to cancel student debt was put on pause late last year due to two conservative-backed lawsuits that are seeking to permanently block the relief. The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments to both cases on February 28, and it will consider whether Biden's path to use the HEROES Act of 2003, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, is legal.

That authority has been hotly contested not only within those lawsuits, but by other conservative groups and the GOP lawmakers who signed onto the brief. Alongside the House Republicans, 43 GOP senators signed onto a separate amicus brief filed on Friday opposing the relief, led by Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

"The statutory question in this case is simple: Does the HEROES Act empower the Secretary to cancel nearly half a trillion dollars in debt owed by millions of willing borrowers, many of whom suffered no financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer is clearly no," the senators wrote in the brief.

Both of the briefs argued that the HEROES Act does not allow for broad loan forgiveness, which a series of other conservative groups reiterated in their own briefs filed to the Supreme Court this week. Still, Biden's administration, Democratic lawmakers, and advocates have stood strongly behind its authority — a White House official previously told Insider in a statement the HEROES Act is intended to help borrowers recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, which are long lasting.

"Let me make one thing clear. Despite Republican officials' attempts to block student debt relief, my Administration is confident in our legal authority to carry out our plan," Biden wrote on Twitter last month. "We'll keep fighting to get millions of Americans the relief they need."

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