By Julius Washington
Howard University News Service
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit granted a stay on appeal Friday evening in a case challenging President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan. The decision “prohibits the appellees from discharging any student loan debt under the cancellation program,” pending a full ruling from the court. The Federal District Court in St. Louis had originally dismissed the case.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, President Biden delivered remarks about his plan at Delaware State University in Dover.
“It’s good to be home,” Biden said upon taking the podium at the Historically Black University.
The visit came the day after the district court in St. Louis dismissed a legal challenge brought by several states and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied an emergency request from the Brown County Taxpayers Association in Wisconsin.
“But just yesterday, the state court and the Supreme Court said, ‘No, we’re on Biden’s side,’” the president said. Delaware’s Congressional delegation joined Biden during his appearance at the university, including Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, alongside Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper.
The loan forgiveness plan is expected to benefit some 40 million borrowers nationwide, and nearly 22 million Americans have already signed up for relief, according to Biden.
One of those Americans, Zachary Bernard, who is Mister Senior at Delaware State, introduced Biden and expressed his gratitude for the program.
“President Biden’s student debt relief has given me the liberty to graduate debt free,” Bernard said. “This relief is breaking barriers in our communities and in our minds about what we can do with our future.”
Biden also addressed some of the Republican elected officials who had called out the program, but had received loan forgiveness from the Paycheck Protection Program.
“Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida said our plan was reckless,” Biden quoted. “Guess how much he got in that program, forgiven? $2,300,000. That’s not a joke. Can’t make this stuff up.”
Sen. Ted Cruz fired back at Biden’s comments in a tweet, saying, “now he’s comparing PPP loans that people got to deal w/ those govt mandates to loan forgiveness he gave to his Ivy League slacker fringe liberal base to buy their votes.”
In a letter addressed to President Biden, 22 Republican governors criticized the plan, writing: “A high-cost degree is not the key to unlocking the American Dream — hard work and personal responsibility is.”
Like Cruz, opponents of the loan forgiveness program in the Republican Party have dismissed it as a handout to the wealthy or as an attempt to earn Democratic votes ahead of a consequential midterm election, or they claimed that Biden lacks the authority to make such a decision without Congress.
The Department of Education estimated that “nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year” and released a five-page memo deriving authority for loan forgiveness from a provision of the 9/11-era HEROES Act.
“Republican members of Congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can to deny this relief, even to their own constituents,” Biden said. “Who in the hell do they think they are?”
Mekhi Riley, a junior at Morgan State University, was supportive of the program and opined that a lack of empathy was responsible for much of the opposition to the relief plan.
“I feel like they’re doing exactly what needs to be done,” Riley said. “I think a lot of people fail to be empathetic towards someone who has to take out a bunch of loans because their job requires a [college] education.”
President Biden also used the speech to urge the students in attendance to vote in November, pitching them on his agenda for the next term.
“Your generation will not be ignored. You will not be shunned. You will not be silenced,” Biden said. “If we maintain the Senate and pick up a couple senators, we’re going to see to it that we completely codify Roe v. Wade in every state.”
Denesia Spencer, also a Morgan State student, said she was looking forward to signing up for the student loan relief program and could understand how it could bring more young people to the polls.
“I think it could promote some change in how students vote,” Spencer said. “When they see that voting is actually helping them in the long run, they will probably be more likely to vote.”
Julius Washington is a reporter for HUNewsService.com.