(CNN) — The Joe Biden government projected confidence about the future of the student loan forgiveness that the president is promoting in a message sent to applicants for the benefit, even in the face of skepticism from conservative Supreme Court justices in oral arguments this Tuesday.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in an email sent to millions of borrowers who applied for debt cancellation that the administration “built a powerful case” to support Biden’s executive action.

“Our government trusts our legal authority to adopt this plan, and today made it clear that opponents of the program lack the legitimacy to even take their case to court,” Cardona wrote in an email update obtained by CNN.

The email update to applicants reflects a position that administration officials have held following oral arguments. But it also implicitly lays out his view on the political dynamics of a measure that has become a partisan flashpoint. As applicants and government officials prepare for what will likely be months of waiting for a final decision, the update sent to roughly 7 million people also gives an idea of ​​how far the administration would go in framing the debate — and the consequences. — if the court annuls the program.

Cardona’s message comes as millions of borrowers remain in limbo awaiting a Supreme Court decision on whether to uphold Biden’s move to pay up to $20,000 in student loan debt.

White House officials, who have closely followed oral arguments in two impeachments, have maintained the position that they will ultimately prevail in cases challenging Biden’s authority to disburse millions of dollars in federal loans. While they remain confident in the program’s merits, the sources highlight the view within the government that the claimants lack legitimacy to bring challenges, which would make arguments about authority itself moot.

A family source told CNN that the White House remains confident that things will work out, simply by saying, “We will win.”

Particularly critical during the hearing were the states’ arguments that the potential harms of the loan forgiveness program to MOHELA — the entity created by Missouri to provide loan servicing in the state — gives that state a foothold.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett stood out among conservatives for asking particularly pointed questions of red states about their standing arguments, setting her apart as a potential swing vote for the court’s three liberal members.

“If MOHELA is an arm of the state, why didn’t they just strengthen MOHELA and say they have to continue with this lawsuit,” Barrett asked Nebraska Attorney General James Campbell.

The question was one of several directed at Campbell, who represented the group of Republican-led states that argue the administration overstepped its authority over the states’ permanent claims.

Another source familiar with the case said Barrett’s comments only generated optimism within the government.

But, as several conservative justices raised pointed questions related to the government’s authority on the matter, Cardona’s update appeared intended to allay general concerns.

He also anticipated a political contrast that officials will likely increase if the Supreme Court strikes down Biden’s actions. Something White House officials have repeatedly pressed on as challenges made their way through the courts.

“While opponents of this program would deny relief to tens of millions of working and middle-class Americans, we are fighting to provide relief to borrowers who need support as they recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic,” Cardona wrote.

Biden’s plan would cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for people who earn less than $125,000 a year, or less than $250,000 for married couples. People with Pell Grants could receive a forgiveness of up to $20,000. In total, more than 40 million federal borrowers would qualify for some level of debt cancellation, with approximately 20 million who would have their balance forgiven in full.

The Biden administration received 26 million applications for the program, which was frozen as court battles unfolded, and had already approved more than 16 million applications.

Cardona reiterated that a pause on federal loan payments, which was implemented during the Trump administration in response to the pandemic and would restart at the same time the cancellation was implemented, remains on hold while Supreme Court deliberations unfold. .

“While we await the decision of the Supreme Court, the pause on student loan payments remains in effect,” Cardona wrote. “Payments will resume 60 days after the Supreme Court announces its decision.”

If the dispute is not resolved by June 30, payments are scheduled to resume 60 days after that date. If you haven’t made a decision or resolved the dispute by June 30, payments will resume 60 days later.

The Supreme Court decision is expected to come this summer.


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