Biden says he thinks he has authority to use 14th Amendment on debt ceiling
President Biden on Sunday said he believes he has the authority to use the 14th Amendment to unilaterally address the debt ceiling, but he acknowledged potential legal challenges could still lead the nation to default if he went that route.
“I’m looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority — I think we have the authority,” Biden told reporters at a press conference in Hiroshima, Japan. “The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it would not be appealed, and as a consequence past the date in question and still default on the debt. That is a question that I think is unresolved.”
Biden added that all four congressional leaders said in a recent White House meeting that they agreed the nation would not default, signaling that he hoped talk of the 14th Amendment would ultimately not be necessary.
“So I’m assuming that we mean what we say and we’ll figure out a way to not have to default,” Biden said.
Sunday’s remarks were Biden’s strongest to date on the 14th Amendment, which has been a point of debate among legal experts and administration officials as the U.S. gets closer to the risk of default. The Treasury Department has warned the U.S. could default as early as June 1 if no action is taken to raise the debt ceiling.
The idea hinges on a phrase in the 14th Amendment that says the public debt “shall not be questioned,” which proponents of the idea argue means the president could unilaterally continue to issue debt if Congress does not act.
Biden earlier this month said he had been “considering” the 14th Amendment as a way to unilaterally work around the debt ceiling but also said it would not be a viable short-term solution.
Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen previously warned that using the 14th Amendment could trigger a “constitutional crisis,” calling it “one of the not-good options” if Congress failed to act.
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