Biden’s Plan to Raise Debt Ceiling Without GOP Support

President Joe Biden claims he can increase the debt ceiling without Republican approval by invoking his authority under the 14th Amendment.

Biden announced at a news conference on May 21 at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, that he is examining the 14th Amendment to see whether or not he has the right to extend the debt ceiling without congressional authorization.

The part of the 14th Amendment that Biden refers to reads, 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.

Biden’s argument relies heavily on the last phrase, ‘shall not be questioned.’ Some argued that this gives the President the authority to prevent a default without involving Congress.

This section of the 14th amendment was adopted as part of the so-called Civil War amendments to assure that the newly defeated southern states would not question the debts of the United States, primarily debts it took up in waging war against the southern states.

Although it has been suggested that this strategy may be utilized more broadly to allow the executive to bypass Congress in lifting the debt ceiling entirely, no United States President has ever used it. Even President Biden admitted that it was unclear whether the matter could be resolved to avert a default.

Biden posed the question of whether or not a broad 14th Amendment interpretation might be made and activated in time to avoid an appeal, allowing a debt default to occur after the relevant date. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly rebuffed proposals to increase the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th Amendment, arguing that doing so could lead to a constitutional crisis.

The maximum amount of money the U.S. Treasury can borrow has been a contention between Republicans and Democrats for months. A debt ceiling rise needs to be approved by both houses of Congress. Default by the United States would be unprecedented if the debt ceiling weren’t raised. The dollar’s worth would plummet as a result of this.

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by June 1, as Yellen has warned, the United States will go into default.

On May 21, Biden made his most forceful statements to date about the possibility of utilizing the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress.

The President, however, is hopeful that this step would not be necessary, as all officials have previously assured the public that the country will not default.

The President’s comments on Sunday came as negotiations between the two sides looked to have stopped. On Sunday, Biden harshly slammed what he called the extreme positions of Republicans, arguing that most of what the GOP has proposed is, quite frankly, unacceptable.

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the speaker of the House of Representatives, fired back, saying the White House was going backward in negotiations.

McCarthy tweeted that with President Biden out of the country, unfortunately, the socialist wing of the Democrat Party appears to be in control.