If President Obama should invoke a clause in the 14th Amendment in order to bypass Congress and borrow beyond the debt limit, at least one conservative Republican lawmaker would consider that an act worthy of impeachment.
Speaking at a Tea Party event in a suburb of Charleston, S.C., Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said it would be an "impeachable act" for the president to find a way around Congressional authority to raise the debt ceiling.
The idea that the 14th Amendment may provide a constitutional bypass to the standoff in Congress over the debt ceiling picked up steam this week. Some analysts have suggested that the amendment makes it illegal for the United States to default on its debt, giving the president the power to extend the Treasury Department's borrowing authority without congressional approval.
The amendment reads, in part, that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned.”
Obama sidestepped a question on the so-called "14th Amendment solution" at the White House Twitter town hall held Wednesday. “I don’t think we should even get to the constitutional issue,” Obama said.
Responding to a question from an audience member at the Tea Party meeting, Scott called the idea "silly" but added that "there is a tad bit of truth to it."
Scott said, "This president is looking to usurp congressional oversight to find a way to get it done without us."
Republicans including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have brushed off the legitimacy of a 14th Amendment solution. However, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) raised the idea on Wednesday as one possible solution to the current impasse in deficit negotiations if deadline pressure alone cannot force action by the Treasury's Aug. 2 deadline.
“People are looking at the fact that maybe the debt ceiling bill that Congress presumably has to pass for the government to borrow more maybe is contrary to that constitutional provision,” Grassley said, as reported by the Iowa Quad-City Times.
Scott characterized the possibility as "catastrophic ... if one man can usurp the entire system set up by our Founding Fathers over something this significant."