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Biden says he’s ‘not confident of the outcome of the decision yet’ on student loans

(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday raised clear concern that the Supreme Court may decide to strike down his student debt cancellation program, one day after several conservative justices expressed skepticism about the administration’s authority.

“I’m confident we’re on the right side of the law,” Biden told CNN when asked if he was confident the administration would prevail in the case. “I’m not confident of the outcome of the decision yet.”

Biden’s comments, which he made as he departed the White House for the House Democratic retreat in Baltimore, come the day after oral arguments on two challenges to the program to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt held by certain borrowers and as White House officials continue to maintain publicly that they believe they will prevail at the Supreme Court.

But with conservative justices signaling clear doubts about the administration’s authority to cancel hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt as part of executive action taken last year, Biden’s remarks underscored a view that the fate of the program is tenuous.

Sources have maintained that they believe the administration’s case is in solid legal footing, but have focused intently on the view that the plaintiffs in the case don’t have standing to bring the challenges at all. At least one conservative justice, Amy Coney Barrett, signaled the standing argument had some resonance during her questioning on Tuesday.

Biden’s plan would cancel as much as $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 a year, or less than $250,000 for married couples. Individuals who received Pell grants could see up to $20,000 forgiven. In all, more than 40 million federal borrowers would qualify for some level of debt cancelation, with roughly 20 million who would have their balance forgiven entirely.

The Biden administration received 26 million applications for the program, which has been frozen as the court battles have played out, and more than 16 million applications had already been approved.

If the litigation is not resolved by June 30, federal student loan payments, which have been paused during the pandemic, are scheduled to resume 60 days after that date.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to come this summer.