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MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal judge has halted a loan forgiveness program for farmers of color in response to a lawsuit alleging the program discriminates against white farmers.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Milwaukee issued a temporary restraining order Thursday suspending the program for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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The program pays up to 120% of direct or guaranteed farm loan balances for Black, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander farmers. President Joe Biden’s administration created the loan forgiveness program as part of its COVID-19 pandemic relief plan.

Emily Newton, the lead attorney representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the lawsuit, didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday seeking comment on the restraining order.

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Minority farmers have maintained for decades that they have been unfairly denied farm loans and other government assistance. Federal agriculture officials in 1999 and 2010 settled lawsuits from Black farmers accusing the agency of discriminating against them.

Conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit in April arguing white farmers aren’t eligible, amounting to a violation of their constitutional rights. The firm sued on behalf of 12 farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon and Kentucky.

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Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments

Congressional Democrats are calling on President BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE to extend a moratorium on student loan payments for at least six months beyond the upcoming October deadline.

In a Wednesday letter led by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate to vote on elections bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Progressives fear nightmare scenario over voting rights assault MORE (Mass.), Democratic lawmakers urged Biden to postpone loan repayment collections until March 31 or until "the economy reaches pre-pandemic employment levels, whichever is longer."

Shortly after taking office, Biden extended a previous freeze on federal student loan payments until October, citing the financial burdens brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The suspension of payments and interest during the pandemic has provided essential relief to borrowers and their families during this economic and public health crisis. Restarting payments, however, will present a significant challenge for borrowers, loan servicers, and the Department of Education (ED), and we urge you not to let the payment pause lapse when borrowers are still depending on this financial relief," the lawmakers wrote.

"We urge you to act quickly to extend the current pause on payments and interest so that borrowers are not penalized and student debt payments do not drag down the pace of our economic recovery."

In addition to Warren, the letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill Harris to preside over Senate for voting rights debate MORE (N.Y.) and Reps. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them It's past time we elect a Black woman governor House Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' MORE (Mass.) and Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyNew Air Force One jets may be a year late, cost more, Pentagon official says House passes bill to prevent violence in health care workplaces We can't afford to lose one more nurse — passing workplace violence prevention bill would help MORE (Conn.).

The lawmakers pointed to how the pandemic has disproportionately affected women and people of color who borrow more in order to attend college and tend to have a harder time paying off student loans. They argued that lifting the freeze of federal student loan payments would negatively impact those groups the most.

"This decision cannot be delayed. Borrowers, ED, and loan servicers will need time to prepare for any changes to the current situation, including the scheduled resumption of payments and interest," they added.

Warren has long advocated for student loan reform, making it one of the pillars of her 2020 presidential campaign.

Warren is reportedly stalling the confirmation of Biden's nominee for under secretary of Education, James Kvaal, in order to secure a commitment on action toward student loans.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Ayanna Pressley Chuck Schumer Joe Courtney Joe Biden Charles Schumer Student debt Loan servicing Student loan Loan modification in the United States

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