President Joe Biden signaled last week that he is unlikely to use an untested provision within the 14th Amendment to attempt to unilaterally raise the nation’s borrowing limit. This decision has sparked considerable consternation among some Democrats in Congress.
Politico recently cited disappointment from left-wing members of the Democratic caucus over the president’s refusal to use the 14th Amendment.
In particular, some in Biden’s party cited a portion of the amendment, of which its main focus was to grant citizenship to freed slaves. However, the passage in question states that the “validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” shall “not be questioned.”
The passage led to a considerable discussion regarding whether or not the amendment could be used to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
There has only been one such case in which the Supreme Court ruled on the clause’s effect on the nation’s debt. In 1935, the high court dismissed a case regarding President Franklin Roosevelt’s removal of the United States from the gold standard.
The issue has not been touched in a similar manner in almost a century.
The president’s mixed signals in the debt limit standoff further delayed a possible solution. Earlier this month, Biden indicated that he would not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling.
“He is not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time.
The president then reversed course, calling House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), saying that “default is not an option” and holding a meeting with congressional leaders.
However, McCarthy said at the same time that there was no “new movement” during a meeting with Biden.
Joe Biden’s position on using the 14th Amendment on the debt ceiling is legally frivolous.
Even Barack Obama thought that! pic.twitter.com/8apEcTo8uH
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 21, 2023
Following the initial meeting, there was considerable disagreement between the White House and Republican leaders in Congress.
Toward the end of the president’s trip to the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Biden spoke with McCarthy via telephone. The two leaders agreed to meet on Monday to discuss a possible path forward.
“That’s better than it was earlier,” McCarthy said.