White House Says 14th Amendment Won’t ‘Fix The Current’ Debt Problem
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The White House on Tuesday said invoking the 14th Amendment to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on $31 trillion debt won’t solve the national crisis after nearly a dozen left-wing Senators suggested President Joe Biden use such authority.

“It is not going to deal with the problem that we’re currently having at this moment, at this time,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “What we need to focus on is Congress acting.”

The Biden administration has warned that the U.S. could run out of money as soon as June 1.

The debt ceiling, a statute established by Congress that prevents the government from spending beyond a predetermined national debt limit of $31.4 trillion, exceeded the threshold earlier this year.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen affirmed in a letter that her agency expects to default as early as the first day of June unless lawmakers amend the debt limit. Republicans desire to link a temporary increase in the debt ceiling with spending caps, while Democrats say they prefer separate processes for debt limit negotiations and budget reforms.

Biden suggested invoking the 14th Amendment, which states the “validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned,” to raise the debt ceiling during a press conference on Sunday in Japan.

“I’m looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority — I think we have the authority,” Biden said. “The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it would not be appealed, and as a consequence, past the date in question and still default on the debt.”

“That is a question that I think is unresolved,” he added.

Biden said he would discuss the debt limit with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) via telephone from Air Force One as he returns home from Japan after the top Republican accused him of being beholden to “radical socialists” as a potential default looms.

McCarthy told lawmakers on Tuesday that Republican leaders are “nowhere near” a deal with the White House on the debt ceiling and asked fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting to “hang with me on the debt limit.”

Following his remarks, Jean-Pierre dodged answering if the president had ruled out using the 14th Amendment directly and shifted the blame to members of Congress.

“This is up to lawmakers,” she said. “Understandably, the president wants any action to be strongly supported by the law, and that’s what you’ve heard him say.”

Jean-Pierre would not give a specific date that Americans could expect Biden and McCarthy to reach a deal for Congress to pass debt-ceiling legislation by June 1.

“I’m not going to get into dates,” Jean-Pierre said, “but what I can say is there is an urgency. We want to see this done as soon as possible.”

A default would likely cause a recession as the federal government, a major borrower of funds investors worldwide consider reliable, fails to repay obligations.

The national debt is a source of persistent financial risk for the United States and a damper on long-term economic growth. Elevated interest rates on the national debt have recently weighed on the budget as lawmakers are forced to devote more revenues toward servicing the obligations rather than funding programs.

Jeffrey Cawood and Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.

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