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President Joe Biden’s second attempt at student loan cancellation began moving forward Tuesday with a round of hearings to negotiate the details of a new plan.

In a process known as negotiated rulemaking, 14 people chosen by the Biden administration are meeting for the first of three hearings on student loan relief. Their goal is to guide the Education Department toward a proposal after the Supreme Court rejected Biden’s first plan in June.

The negotiators all come from outside the federal government and represent a range of viewpoints on student loans. The panel includes students and officials from a range of colleges, along with loan servicers, state officials and advocates including the NAACP.

In opening remarks, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal said the student debt crisis has threatened to undercut the promise of higher education.

“Student loan debt in this country has grown so large that it siphons off the benefits of college for many students,” Kvaal said in prepared remarks. “Some loans made to young adults stretch into retirement with no hope of being repaid. These debt burdens are shared by families and communities.”

Biden directed the Education Department to find another path to loan relief after the conservative court ruled that he couldn’t cancel loans using a 2003 law called the HEROES Act.

The latest attempt will rest on a sweeping law known as the Higher Education Act, which gives the education secretary authority to waive student loans — although how far that power extends is the subject of legal debate. The department is going through the negotiated rulemaking process to change or add federal rules clarifying how the secretary can cancel debt.



The ex-campaign treasurer for U.S. Rep. George Santos is scheduled to enter a guilty plea to an unspecified felony in connection with the sprawling federal investigation of financial irregularities surrounding the indicted New York Republican, prosecutors say.

Nancy Marks is a veteran Long Island political operative. Marks served as the campaign treasurer and close aide to Santos during his two congressional bids. Marks resigned amid growing questions about Santos’ campaign finances and revelations Santos had fabricated much of his life story.

Marks’ plea is scheduled to take place in a Central Islip courtroom on Thursday afternoon. It comes as Santos faces a 13-count federal indictment centered on charges of money laundering and lying to Congress in an earlier financial disclosure.

The investigation of the first-term congressman has also engulfed Marks, a key behind-the-scenes figure in Long Island Republican politics who built a business as a treasurer and consultant to dozens of local, state and federal candidates.

Marks has faced questions about the congressman’s unusual campaign filings, including a series of $199.99 expenses, just below the legal limit for disclosure. Santos, in turn, has sought to pin the blame for his unexplained finances on Marks, who he claims “went rogue” without his knowledge.

Any deal with prosecutors that requires Marks to testify in the case against Santos could be a severe blow to the Republican, who faces charges that he embezzled money from his campaign, lied in financial disclosures submitted to Congress and received unemployment funds when he wasn’t eligible.

While Santos has admitted fabricating key parts about his purported background as a wealthy, well-educated businessman, questions remain about what he did for work, as well as the true source of more than $700,000 he initially claimed to have loaned his campaign from his own personal fortune.

Santos has pleaded not guilty to charges he duped donors, stole from his campaign and lied to Congress about being a millionaire, all while cheating to collect unemployment benefits he didn’t deserve. He has defied calls to resign.

A formal complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center with the Federal Election Committee alleges that unknown groups may have illegally funneled money into the Santos campaign. The complaint, filed last January, named Marks along with Santos.



A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.

And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.

Short of successful appeals by Republican legislative leaders defending the laws, the order will remain in effect until a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician who performs abortions challenging the sections are resolved. The lawsuit also seeks to have clarified whether medications can be used during the second trimester to induce labor of a fetus that can’t survive outside the uterus.

The litigation doesn’t directly seek to topple the crux of the abortion law enacted in May after GOP legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. North Carolina had a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks before July 1, when the law scaled it back to 12 weeks.

The law, a response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade, also added new exceptions for abortions through 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies. A medical emergency exception also stayed in place.

On medication abortions, which bill sponsors say also are permitted through 12 weeks of pregnancy, the new law says a physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug must first “document in the woman’s medical chart the ... intrauterine location of the pregnancy.”

Eagles wrote the plaintiffs were likely to be successful on their claim that the law is so vague as to subject abortion providers to claims that they broke the law if they can’t locate an embryo through an ultrasound because the pregnancy is so new.

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