Pelosi favors use of 14th Amendment to avoid debt-ceiling crisis

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday amplified her support for a constitutional solution to the debt-ceiling increase.

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The California Democrat said that, given the opportunity if she were president, she would not hesitate to invoke the 14th Amendment in order to hike the debt ceiling without congressional support — a move the Obama administration has rejected outright.

"I've made my view very clear on that subject: I would do it in a second," Pelosi said Friday during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. "But I'm not the president of the United States."

The country hit the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on Monday. The Treasury Department has said it can take "extraordinary measures" to continue borrowing — and therefore paying its obligations — until roughly March, when Congress will have to step in to raise the cap.

Many leading Democrats have urged Obama to avoid a fight with congressional Republicans over the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th Amendment. It states that the “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned." Supporters of that strategy argue that the language empowers the president to raise the debt ceiling without congressional input. 

Obama this week said he won't entertain any options but a clean debt-ceiling vote. 

“While I will negotiate over many things," he said late Tuesday night, "I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.”

Republicans are pushing back hard. They see the debt-ceiling increase as perhaps their greatest leverage point in forcing Obama to accept steep spending cuts amid the looming budget battles set to define the early stages of the 113th Congress.

“Now that the House and Senate have acted in a bipartisan way to prevent tax increases on 99 percent of the American people, Democrats now have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to join Republicans in a serious effort to reduce Washington’s out-of-control spending,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday. He made it clear that an increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by big spending cuts. 

In the summer of 2011, the GOP won $2.1 trillion in spending reductions in exchange for a debt-ceiling increase of the same amount. The Republicans have warned that they will allow the country to default on its debts unless they get a similar package this year.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said this week that the temporary market turmoil "is a hell of a lot better than the path we're on."

"We absolutely have to have this fight over the debt limit," Toomey said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. 

The White House has already ruled out invoking the 14th Amendment. 

"This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Dec. 6.