Republicans and Democrats remain locked in a fierce battle as the May 19th debt ceiling deadline rapidly approaches, weighing the economic costs of either the passing or failure of a deal that has gone unresolved for months.
At the center of the debate rests President Joe Biden, a man whose stance on the matter has been conflicting if not confusing. In a recent address to the nation, the president admitted that his administration is considering invoking the 14th Amendment should the talks with Congress reach an impasse, a move that has been met with vocal opposition from both Republican and Democrat sides of the spectrum.
Republican lawmakers have maintain a firm stance against the idea, warning that the use of the 14th Amendment would create a “constitutional crisis”. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) asserted that such a move would be in direct violation of executive power, arguing that Biden would overstep the traditional authority of the office by attempting to override the current congressional law.
“Bypassing Congress would be a dangerous precedent and an abuse of presidential authority,” House Speaker McCarthy cautioned in a press address on Thursday. “It’s irresponsible and unconstitutional.” As an alternative, the GOP has proposed legislation that would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for spending cuts and reforms.
The issue, however, has caused division within the Democrat party, as the 11 left-leaning senators that penned the letter to Biden are split from Biden’s own advisors. In the letter sent Thursday, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and John Fetterman (D-PA) warned the president it may be the only option to avoid a default if Republicans don’t agree to a debt ceiling deal. On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has maintained that invoking the 14th Amendment would be “legally questionable”.
House Democrat Jamie Raskin (D-MD) believes that’s a risk worth taking, noting in a recent interview with Insider that the 14 amendment serves as “an operations manual for how the president should respond to extortion and threats by a faction of Congress.”
The White House and Congressional leaders engaged in talks on Tuesday but, as of now, no clear, viable path forward has been determined and the divide remains deep. With the imminent debt ceiling deadline looming only three weeks away, the pressure to find a solution is mounting, and President Biden may soon find himself in a position to make a highly consequential decision on the fate of the American economy.