President Joe Biden is “not confident” the Supreme Court will allow his student loan relief plan, he said Wednesday, a day after the court’s conservative majority appeared to support challenges to the aid program.
The ruling, expected in June, could impact over 40 million Americans eligible to apply for student loan forgiveness of up to $20,000.
“I’m confident we’re on the right side of the law,” Biden told reporters outside the White House. “I’m not confident about the outcome of the decision yet.”
The court’s conservative supermajority appeared prepared to scrap the plan, but there’s a chance it could survive if at least two conservatives back the liberal justices on the question of standing — whether the plaintiffs can prove the debt-relief program causes them direct harm.
The two cases before the court have been brought by six GOP-led states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina — and two student borrowers — Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor.
Biden introduced the plan in August. It allows borrowers making up to $125,000 to get up to $10,000 in student debt relief. Pell Grant recipients would be eligible for up to $20,000.
The administration authorized the program under the 2003 HEROES Act, which grants the education secretary the authority to alleviate loans in national emergencies, in this case COVID-19.
Asked if the administration has a plan B if the court strikes down the relief, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded: “There’s a reason why we took it to the Supreme Court: because we believe that we have legal authority.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also defended the program.
“President Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris, and I recognize how essential this relief is for tens of millions of Americans, and we are fighting to deliver much-needed help to borrowers trying to get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic,” Cardona said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Biden has been urging Democrats to promote his administration’s accomplishments as he continues to consider a 2024 reelection campaign.
“If we did nothing but implement what we’ve already passed and let the people know who did it for them, we win,” Biden told the Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Baltimore. “But we’re way beyond that. It’s not just about winning.”
Biden has previously said he intends to run, but hasn’t officially announced his campaign.
First lady Jill Biden said she was “all for it” when asked about Biden’s 2024 plans.
“It’s Joe’s decision,” she told CNN. “And we support whatever he wants to do. If he’s in, we’re there. If he wants to do something else, we’re there too.”