The US Debt Ceiling Crisis: Will Biden Invoke the 14th Amendment?
As the US approaches its debt limit deadline, some Democrats have urged President Biden to consider using the 14th Amendment to circumvent the debt ceiling by declaring it unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment states, “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”. Democrats argue that the debt limit violates this clause and could trigger a legal challenge, calling into question the validity of any US debt issued after that point. Despite Biden’s hesitancy to use this tactic, progressives have formally called on him to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own. However, the White House has said this is not a workable solution due to legal and time constraints.
The negotiations between the White House and Congress to avert a potential national default that could occur as soon as early June have not made much progress. However, President Biden has already shown willingness to negotiate with Republicans over the debt ceiling, despite calls from the Democrats to address the debt crisis when they still had the majority. Without an agreement, House Republicans have threatened to let the US default. Republicans are demanding budget reductions and stricter employment criteria for federal aid programs as a condition for increasing the debt ceiling. While a deal would be the most politically palatable option, it is not clear that Biden needs Republicans to solve this problem, as the US Constitution may allow him to act unilaterally.
The positions of both parties are clear: the White House is open to budget negotiations but opposed to debt ceiling brinkmanship, while Republicans are threatening default if their demands are not met. President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have met several times to try to reach an agreement, with small steps taken towards a deal. However, negotiations remain off and on, with an agreement some distance away. McCarthy has dismissed White House proposals to cut into the deficit by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and closing loopholes for corporations and has suggested that the divide on federal spending levels remains a major sticking point in the talks.
The US faces a potentially catastrophic default on its debt obligations if an agreement is not reached before June 1. While some Republicans have questioned the solidity of this deadline, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the US could be unable to pay its bills and default on its debt as early as June 1. A deal between Biden and McCarthy is seen as the only viable solution, but it is not clear whether such a deal could get through the House, as Democrats have begun to express concern over Biden’s willingness to concede to Republican demands.
In conclusion, while the use of the 14th Amendment is a potential solution to the debt ceiling crisis, it remains to be seen whether Biden will invoke it. Negotiations between the White House and Congress remain off and on, with the US facing a potentially catastrophic default on its debt obligations if an agreement is not reached before June 1. A deal between Biden and McCarthy is seen as the only viable solution, but it is not clear whether such a deal could get through the House, as Democrats have begun to express concern over Biden’s willingness to concede to Republican demands.
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