Biden touts student debt relief ahead of midterms, calls GOP criticism 'hypocritical'

He called out Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Vern Buchanan.

October 21, 2022, 5:18 PM

President Joe Biden, speaking at Delaware State University on Friday, celebrated the "successful launch" of his student loan forgiveness program this week as his administration rolled out an official application for borrowers and federal courts rejected two GOP legal challenges.

Biden's visit to Delaware State -- a Historically Black College and University where over 75% of students received a Pell Grant and therefore are eligible to get the highest amount of debt relief among some 40 million Americans affected -- comes a day after Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a request to block the program brought by a conservative Wisconsin taxpayers group. Also on Thursday, a federal district court judge struck down a separate lawsuit challenging the measure, brought by six Republican-governed states.

With less than two weeks until the midterm elections, Biden highlighted how he said the debt relief will have a life-changing impact on middle-class Americans while lambasting his GOP opponents who have claimed his policy was unfair to taxpayers and those who didn't attend college.

"We're hearing from people all over the country, of over 10,000 students, that have written me letters so far, literally 10,000 so far. And it's about as easy to apply as signing up while hanging out with their friends or at home and watching a movie," Biden said. "The vast majority are applying on their phones and it's easy as just simply it's easy. Now in less than a week just close to 22 million people have already given us the information."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del.
Evan Vucci/AP

"[Republicans] even fought this in the courts. But just yesterday, State Court and the Supreme Court said no, we're on Biden's side."

On Thursday, a lawsuit filed in a federal court in Missouri last month by state attorneys general from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Carolina, as well as legal representatives from Iowa, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey who wrote "the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear this case." Barrett on Thursday dismissed the emergency appeal from a Wisconsin-based Brown County Taxpayers Association without explanation.

Both decisions were made ahead of this Sunday, which is the earliest the Department of Education has said in court filings it would begin discharging loans.

The debt forgiveness plan is a much-anticipated move to accomplish Biden's August announcement that individuals making less that $125,00 can apply for up to $10,000 of debt relief, or as much as $20,000 for eligible borrowers who were also Pell Grant recipients.

It was formally launched with the rollout of relief applications on Monday, a campaign promise of the former president's. His speech on Friday, just 18 days before a midterm election that could strip Democrats of their majority in Congress, highlighted his ability to make good on his vow.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden waves to students as he arrives to speak about student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, on Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del.
President Joe Biden waves to students as he arrives to speak about student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, on Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del.
Evan Vucci/AP

The president has previously name-checked GOP lawmakers who have criticized him in ways he's deemed hypocritical. Last week, he mentioned Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for requesting Democratic-led funds from packages that they publicly opposed.

Biden's student loan victory lap comes just a few hours after an announcement from him on Friday morning on deficit reduction, where he claimed a $1.4 trillion decrease signified the "the largest one year drop in American history."

On Friday morning, Biden said that some of that debt reduction is linked to his student loan forgiveness plan, which is estimated to add $430 billion to the deficit.

The student loan program is affordable "because the first two years of my administration," Biden said. That's because of the historic deficit reduction, the very deficit reduction that Republicans voted against …This morning, my administration announced that this year the deficit fell."

After finishing his student loan discussion, Biden ticked through a list of his legislative achievements thus far, touching on many topics from pardoning non-violent marijuana-related convictions to fighting to codify the right to abortion. The latter point drew the longest round of applause of any issue Biden mentioned.

"If we maintain the Senate, pick up a couple of senators, we're gonna see to it. We're gonna see to it that we completely codify Roe v. Wade in every state, national codification," Biden said to a roar of shouts and applause.

--ABC News' Molly Nagle and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events