President Biden on Wednesday said he is not confident that the Supreme Court will uphold his student-debt cancellation plan after several conservative justices expressed skepticism over the $400 billion program earlier this week.
“I’m confident we’re on the right side of the law, but I’m not confident about the outcome of the decision yet,” Mr. Biden told reporters.
Mr. Biden in August announced his long-awaited student debt forgiveness plan, which includes canceling $10,000 in student debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year and an additional $10,000 in debt for those who received Pell Grants.
His administration cited pandemic-era provisions that allow “waiver or modification” of loans when there’s a national emergency that affects borrowers’ ability to repay, as giving the president the authority to cancel the debt.
A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the loan cancellation plan from moving forward until the Supreme Court weighed in on legal challenges to the plan.
One of the cases heard Tuesday was brought by a group of six Republican-led states that argue Mr. Biden overstepped his legal authority by forgiving roughly $400 billion in debt. The other case was brought forward by two borrowers who would be excluded from receiving some or all of the benefits under the forgiveness.
The court’s conservative members raised questions of fairness with the president’s plan and expressed concerns over Congress not being consulted on the big-ticket item.
“Some of the biggest mistakes in the court’s history were deferring to assertions of executive emergency power. Some of the finest moments in the court’s history were pushing back against presidential assertions of emergency power,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said.
Mr. Biden has consistently expressed confidence that the plan would eventually move forward. Wednesday’s comments, however, the uphill battle the plan face before the court.
Decisions in the cases are expected in June.
• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.