Justice Clarence Thomas challenged U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar over the distinction between the Biden administration’s student loan debt relief program and what Congress needs to appropriate.
“There was some discussion in the briefing … which is actually debt cancellation, which is exactly what we’re talking about, as canceling $400 billion in debt, which is actually a $400 billion grant, It goes right into Congress’ appropriations power,” Thomas said.
Prelogar said the implementation of the debt relief program would not require any funding from the Treasury, so the issue of appropriation was not technically raised.
She also said that while loan forgiveness “certainly” would result in a borrower being forgiven some level of debt, she doesn’t “think that’s materially different from the kind of effect you might see with other types of powers that are exercised on a long-term basis.” The Heroes Act.”
Thomas said he didn’t think she fully explained why you couldn’t argue that the secretary of education could direct $400 billion — that would require Congress to appropriate it.
“The bone of contention is that you’re actually doing it without funding from Congress,” Thomas said.
Prelogar gave an example of the government paying interest on loans to soldiers who were fighting abroad while they were on extended deferment.
“That’s exactly what Congress intended under this authority; it was to make these changes to the program in direct response to and in proportion to the circumstances facing the minister, or otherwise make things worse for that borrower, “she says.