Democrats Call On Biden To Invoke 14th Amendment For Last-Minute Debt Ceiling Hike: Is It Within Presidential Power?

Zinger Key Points
  • Senate Democrats issue a letter urging Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment.
  • A Harward law professor says the president cannot raise the U.S. debt ceiling unilaterally without Congressional approval.

A group of Democratic Senators plans to urge President Joe Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment in order to address the debt ceiling crisis.

A letter has circulated among Democrats in the Senate, indicating rising skepticism about the path of debt ceiling discussions as the June 1 deadline approaches, according to NBC News.

The draft letter has been spearheaded by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 

Sanders said in an interview on Wednesday that Congress cannot balance the budget by putting children, the elderly and working families at risk of going hungry.

"We write to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which clearly states: 'the validity of the public debt of the United States...shall not be questioned,'" reads the draft letter obtained by NBC News.

The letter further states that by invoking the 14th Amendment, the U.S. would continue to pay its payments on schedule and without delay, avoiding a worldwide economic disaster.

"While we cannot default on our debt, we cannot also allow the destructive Republican budget to be implemented," the Democrats say in the letter. 

What Does The 14th Amendment Say?

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution states in section four that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Also Read: The SPY Breaks Bullishly Following Biden's Debt Ceiling Remarks: Quick Take Technical Analysis

Expert Says Biden 'Has No Power To Unilaterally Raise The Debt Ceiling'

According to Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman, the president is not authorized under the Constitution to unilaterally increase the debt limit.

"The whole reason (why) the Constitution gave the spending and borrowing powers to Congress was to ensure a separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch. That separation was intended to let the political process, not the will of one person, determine how the US borrows and spends money," Feldman wrote in a Bloomberg opinion piece. 

According to the professor, it is very unlikely the Biden administration will use constitutional justifications to defy the debt ceiling.

"The obligation to pay the government's debts lies on Congress," he said, adding that "if McCarthy decides not to pay the nation's bills, there’s nothing Biden can do about it."

Market Reactions

Markets are becoming slightly more confident the debt ceiling crisis will be addressed soon, after Biden said that the U.S. will never default on its debt, indicating the meeting he had with congressional leaders was productive. 

The yield on the one-month Treasury bill, a gauge of market worries about the potential of a U.S. default, fell by 12 basis points, the most in a single day in May. Other maturities saw yields rising on anticipation of a debt limit raise, with the iShares U.S. Treasury Bond ETF GOVT down 0.2% on the day.

Now Read: Wharton's Jeremy Siegel Sees No Threat Of Debt Default; 'What Is Most Likely Is...'

Photo: Shutterstock

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Posted In: GovernmentBondsPoliticsTop StoriesMarketsGeneraldebt ceilingDebt LimitDemocratsJoe Bidennoah feldman
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