Biden does not dismiss using 14th Amendment to ‘blow through the debt ceiling’

If President Biden can’t come to terms on the budget with Republicans, he indicated he might invoke the 14th Amendment and challenge the constitutionality of the debt ceiling as a way to essentially go around Congress to get what he wants.

(Video: MSNBC)

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle sat down with the president for Friday’s episode of “The 11th Hour” and specifically asked him if the 14th Amendment was on the table.

“As I said, you have a very strong economic recovery story, but this is a very volatile Congress. There are members of Congress that might be OK with us defaulting because they think it could hurt you more politically,” Ruhle said. “Given that, are you prepared to invoke the 14th Amendment and blow through the debt ceiling?”

“I’ve not gotten there yet,” Biden replied.

According to The New York Times, previous administrations had considered such a shocking move to be “unthinkable.”

Explains The Times:

That option is effectively a constitutional challenge to the debt limit. Under the theory, the government would be required by the 14th Amendment to continue issuing new debt to pay bondholders, Social Security recipients, government employees and others, even if Congress fails to lift the limit before the so-called X-date.

That theory rests on the 14th Amendment clause stating 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.’


“Continuing to issue debt in that situation would avoid an immediate disruption in consumer demand by maintaining government payments,” The Times notes, “but borrowing costs are likely to soar, at least temporarily.”

A play like that would come with “serious ramifications,” the outlet says, and would most certainly face “legal challenges from Republicans.”

But according to Biden, the Republicans he is now facing aren’t like the ones Americans remember from past generations.

“Here’s the deal, I think that — first of all, this is not your father’s Republican Party,” he said. “This is a different group.”

“And I think that we have to make it clear to the American people that I am prepared to negotiate in detail with their budget,” he continued. “How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”

“For example, in the first years of my administration, I cut the debt by $1.7 trillion, 1.7 — more than anybody’s ever done in history,” Biden said.

(In reality, the national debt increased by about $3.8 trillion over his first two years in office though Biden was likely talking about the budget deficit — Ruhle offered no clarity.)

As the president is so prone to doing, he then stumbled when trying to detail the flaws in the Republicans’ proposed budget, managing to mumble only that it won’t pass and he isn’t supposed to say anything more about it.

“Their budget goes in and they — there’s no — and there’s no possibility they can pass their budget, zero,” Biden said. “Zero possibility. They cut — they cut 200 — anyway, I won’t — I shouldn’t get going on it, but…”

At that point, Ruhle jumped back in for the rescue.

“When you say that this is not your father’s Republican Party, is Kevin McCarthy an honest broker for you to negotiate with?” she asked.

“I think he’s an honest man. I think he’s in a position, though, he had to make a deal though that was pretty — you know, 15 votes. Fifteen votes that — where he just about sold away everything that the far, far right –” Biden said. “There is a Republican Party and there are MAGA Republicans.”

“The MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where, in order to stay speaker, he has to agree –” the president continued. “He has agreed to things that maybe he believes, but are just extreme.”

Melissa Fine


We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles