Nov 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. government has stopped accepting applications for student loan relief after a federal judge blocked President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, a government website said.
A judge in Texas appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled Thursday that Biden’s plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt is illegal and should be vacated. The Biden administration is appealing the ruling.
“Courts have issued orders blocking our student loan relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to vacate those orders. If you have already applied, we will put your application on hold,” the notice said.
About 26 million Americans have applied for student loan forgiveness, and the U.S. Department of Education has already approved the requests of 16 million.
The appeal will initially be heard by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, a court dominated by conservative justices who block other Biden policies.
Of the court’s 16 active justices, only four were appointed by Democratic presidents. Trump appointed 6 of them.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the department would keep the application information “once we win in court so that it can quickly process their relief.”
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Republican appointee of former President Donald Trump in Fort Worth, called the plan “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ legislative power.”
The case will eventually end up in the US Supreme Court. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett has already rejected two requests to block the plan in lawsuits from Indiana and Wisconsin.
Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru and Nate Raymond in Boston. Editing by Heather Timmons, Chisu Nomiyama and Aurora Ellis
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