President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic is over during an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening, which could render his decision to forgive trillions of dollars of student loan debt unconstitutional as he used the COVID-19 emergency to legally justify the move.
The Biden administration used the COVID-19 emergency as a pretext for its move to forgive federal student loan debts of up to $20,000 without congressional approval, according to a Justice Department document. The powers Biden used to forgive student loans are only constitutional during an active emergency; however, the emergency his administration cited has now been declared over only a month after it was used to justify the decision.
“The pandemic is over,” Biden said. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over.”
The Biden administration in August cited the 2003 HEROES Act as legal justification for the student debt cancellation, according to the department’s memo. Government lawyers argued that the HEROES Act, which gave the executive branch the authority “to help borrowers serving in the military in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks,” could apply to any national emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and could therefore be used to forgive federal student loans.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” President Biden tells 60 Minutes in an interview in Detroit. https://t.co/7SixTE3OMT pic.twitter.com/s5fyjRpYuX
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 19, 2022
The act was designed to allow the executive branch “to act quickly should a situation arise that has not been considered,” according to the memo.
Biden decided to forgive student loans roughly two-and-a-half years after the pandemic began in March 2020.
Biden’s ambassador to United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had said that the pandemic was not over during a news conference on Friday.
“And let’s be clear: The COVID-19 pandemic is not over,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
The administration’s student loan forgiveness plan could cost taxpayers between $469 billion to $519 billion, according to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Budget Model.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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