American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten railed against challenges to President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation plan outside of the Supreme Court Tuesday as oral arguments began for two cases that could put the proposal on ice, video shows.
Students, politicians and activists rallied outside the Supreme Court late Monday night and throughout Tuesday as the high bench heard arguments for two cases that will determine whether or not the Biden Administration’s plan to cancel an estimated $400 billion in student loans is constitutional. Weingarten said it is “not right” that student loan lenders and corporations oppose canceling student loans when many businesses received aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And frankly, and this is what really pisses me off, during the pandemic we understood that small businesses were hurting and we helped them, and it didn’t go to the Supreme Court to challenge it,” Weingarten said, according to a video posted by Jake Schneider. “Big businesses were hurting and we helped them, and it didn’t go to the Supreme Court to challenge it.”
The Biden Administration attempted to use the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act which permits the Department of Education (DOE) to eliminate debt during a national emergency, according to the Associated Press. Former President Donald Trump issued a national emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic which will end on May 11, but the Biden administration maintains that student loan borrowers will still be impacted.
“All of a sudden, when it’s about our students, they challenge it. The corporations challenge it. The student loan lenders challenge it,” Weingarten continued, according to the video. “That is not right. That is not fair and that is what we are fighting, as well, when we say cancel student debt.”
Jack Fitzhenry, senior legal policy analyst at Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday that the HEROES Act “doesn’t provide the authority that the administration claims it does.”
“I expect the argument will center on whether Congress clearly gave the President the power to unilaterally wipe away half a trillion dollars in student loan debt in the HEROES Act,” Michael Poon, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney, previously told the DCNF.
The court heard arguments for Biden v. Nebraska, which was brought by a coalition of states that allege the department overstepped its statutory authority, and Department of Education v. Brown, which was filed by two student loan borrowers.
The administration’s plan would cancel $20,000 of debt for borrowers who received Pell grants and $10,000 for borrowers who did not.
ATF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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