Today, a group of House Democrats held a press conference where they advocated for a fail-safe measure to ensure that the debt ceiling is hiked. These Democrats said that if all other measures fail, President Obama should simply issue an executive order invoking the 14th amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. John Larson (CT) and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (SC) explained that their colleagues believe that if Republicans are intent on “destroying government,” then there should be a “fail-safe mechanism” to ensure that the debt ceiling is hiked and that this mechanism is the 14th amendment:
LARSON: If a small group is really that intent on destroying government, and is intent on saying they don’t believe there are any ramifications for their irresponsibility then we have to have a fail-safe mechanism, we believe that fail safe mechanism is the 14th amendment and the president of the United States.
CLYBURN: So I would say to the president, if that’s what lands on his desk, a short-term listing of the debt ceiling — he should put it on his desk next to an executive order he will have drawn up. And with the same pen that he vetoes that short term debt ceiling extension, he should sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment to this issue. I am convinced that whatever discussions about the legality of this issue can continue.
Clyburn added that when he presented his idea to the Democratic Caucus, it was met with applause. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not yet taken an stance on the issue, but Larson said she is aware of Democrats’ support for the method.
President Obama is currently throwing cold water on the idea that the Constitution will save America from the impending default crisis, but this view has some high-profile dissenters. Right-wing legal scholars Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule made the argument that Obama can invoke the constitutional option in a New York Times op-ed published last week. Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton said that if he was in Obama’s place, he would use the 14th amendment himself to raise the ceiling.