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The White House is appealing a federal ruling that blocked President Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt by individual borrowers.

District Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump in Texas, said Mr. Biden overreached with the forgiveness plan by grabbing powers that belong to Congress.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed late Thursday that the Department of Justice wasted no time in filing an appeal. She pointed to 26 million people who filed for debt relief and the fact that 16 million were already approved.

“The president and this administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents — backed by extreme Republican special interests — sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief,” she said.

Mr. Biden’s plan would cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for those earning less than $125,000 or households earning less than $250,000. Pell Grant recipients could get up to $20,000 forgiven.

Judge Pittman said Congress would have to approve the plan.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government,” he wrote.

Already, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit had put the program on hold while it considers a challenge from several states.

Ms. Jean-Pierre said the Department of Education would hold onto applicants’ information so it “can quickly process their relief once we prevail in court.”

“We will never stop fighting for hardworking Americans most in need — no matter how many roadblocks our opponents and special interests try to put in our way,” she said.

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