During a news conference in July 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted that the president does not have the power to forgive student loan debt, adding that any such policy must be passed via Congress.
Her remarks have resurfaced following a federal judge's ruling that the Biden administration's student debt relief program was unlawful.
"People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness," Pelosi began. "He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power."
"That has to be an act of Congress," she continued, adding, "I don't even like to call it forgiveness because that implies a transgression. It's not to be forgiven, just freeing people from those obligations."
"The President can't do it, so that's not even a discussion," Pelosi added, noting that, "Not everybody realizes that."
Among those who apparently haven't realized that is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
"Let's be clear: President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt," she tweeted on Monday. "Republican officials need to get out of the way so Americans can get this much-needed relief."
Users were quick to point out that Biden does not have that ability, noting that his student debt relief program had been struck down by US District Judge Mark Pittman, who called it "one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States."
"In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone," Pittman continued. "Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government ... The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved. And having interpreted the HEROES Act, the Court holds that it does not provide 'clear congressional authorization' for the Program proposed by the Secretary."
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