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.
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.”
“I’ll be very blunt with you, when we get by this, I’m thinking about taking a look at, months down the road, as to see whether what the court would say about whether or not it does work,” Biden said about using the 14th Amendment if negotiations were to fail.
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.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated for work hours to maintain public assistance that include Medicaid and food stamps, also known as SNAP.
Biden and Congressional aides are currently in negotiations as the president is in Japan for th G-7 summit.
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