Biden’s student loan plan faces lawsuit from former Senate hopeful (1)
Oregon landlord who ran for US Senate as a Republican challenges the president
The lawsuit, filed Monday by Daniel Laschober in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, argues that Biden improperly relied on a 2003 law (Public Law 108-76) as the basis for reducing or eliminating the obligation to repay federal student loan debt. in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The plaintiff also argues that Biden needs clear congressional approval to eliminate large swaths of student loan debt, an authorization he argues Biden does not have.
Biden’s student loan relief plan, announced Aug. 24, would forgive up to $20,000 in federal loans for those who also received Pell grants and a maximum of $10,000 for other borrowers. Only those earning less than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples, would qualify for the relief.
The lawsuit could test the limits of presidential authority over federally-backed student loans. The United States has 43.4 million borrowers with federal student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.
Laschober lost in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Oregon House in 2018 and 2020. He represents himself in the suit.
The 2003 law allows the Department of Education to waive federal student loan requirements to support borrowers in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or war. Congress passed the law to help borrowers serving in the military after the September 11 attacks. Biden said in August that the Covid-19 pandemic was such an emergency, even as deaths plummeted.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have used the law, called the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, to justify suspending student loan repayments during the pandemic. Trump’s Education Department said the law could not serve as an authority for the “mass cancellation, compromise, discharge or forgiveness” of student loans – a view Biden overruled in August.
The case is Laschober v. Cardona, D. Or., no. 3:22-cv-1373, 9/12/22.