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Yellen on invoking 14th Amendment to ignore debt limit: ‘We shouldn’t ever be in that position’

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to discuss oversight of the CARES Act within the Federal Reserve and Department of Treasury on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.
Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that the U.S. should never be in a position in which officials need to consider invoking the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt limit.

“How about invoking the 14th Amendment as justification for continued borrowing? The text is pretty clear, ‘the validity of the public debt of the United States should not be questioned.’ Why not invoke that?” host George Stephanopoulos asked Yellen on ABC ‘s “This Week.”

“We shouldn’t be in a position where we need to consider whether or not the 14th Amendment applies. That’s a disastrous situation that the country shouldn’t be in,” Yellen said.

She also said she would not “want to see the president or myself faced with the decision about what to do if Congress refuses to let us pay the government’s bills.” 

“You know, what should you pay first? … We have to reassure the world that the United States is fiscally responsible, and that they can count on us to pay our bills. And that’s Congress’s job to do that on a bipartisan basis,” she added.

The Treasury secretary explained that she “couldn’t imagine” the United States being faced with a situation like that in early December, the next deadline to suspend or raise the debt ceiling.

She also said that she had confidence that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would be able to “manage this so that we don’t face this situation.”

The Senate clinched a deal late last week that allowed the U.S. to increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion, pushing the next deadline to raise or suspend the debt ceiling to Dec. 3.

Democrats were able to enlist the help of 11 Republicans to help them overcome a procedural hurdle so that the debt ceiling could be raised. 

Tags Charles Schumer debt ceiling George Stephanopoulos Janet Yellen Janet Yellen Nancy Pelosi Sunday shows Treasury
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