Kansas AG files lawsuit challenging legality of student loan forgiveness

FILE PHOTO - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt discusses a proposal that he's pushing with...
FILE PHOTO - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt discusses a proposal that he's pushing with other Republicans to amend the state constitution to give the Legislature the power to overturn state agencies' administrative regulations, at a news conference, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Behind him are Senate President Ty Masterson, left, R-Andover, and House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., right, R-Olathe.(AP Photo/John Hanna)
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 12:38 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Biden administration’s student loan cancellation program, asserting that the administration lacks the legal authority to forgive debt without congressional authorization.

Schmidt joined officials from five other states in seeking a temporary restraining order pausing the program. The administration has indicated it will start canceling loan balances as early as next week. Just a few months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court warned federal agencies against “asserting highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted” by statute.

Schmidt said the law that the Biden administration relies on is known as the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act), passed to protect service members fighting in the War on Terror from student loan collections. Schmidt asserts that it is inconceivable that when Congress passed the HEROES Act, it thought it was authorizing the president to unilaterally decree something like the Mass Debt Cancellation, which Schmidt says will result in around half a trillion dollars in losses to the federal treasury.

The states argue that the Mass Debt Cancellation is not tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers, as the Biden administration says is authorized by the HEROES Act. Schmidt says the cancellation disregards the act’s objectives and express requirements.