Democrats to urge Biden to use 14th amendment powers to avert ‘global economic catastrophe’ ~ May 18, 2023


As concerns about the debt ceiling heat up, a group of Democratic senators is planning to send Joe Biden a letter requesting he use his authority under the 14th amendment of the constitution to continue paying the US government’s bills, even if the debt ceiling is not raised.

Joe Biden with Kamala Harris and Kevin McCarthy at the White House on Tuesday.

May 17, 2023

Chris Stein and staff

Democratic senators including Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders, an independent, argued that Republicans are not negotiating “in good faith”. They called into question the GOP’s attempt to apply work requirements to programs like Medicaid and SNAP, which provide healthcare and food vouchers for low income family.

“It is unfortunate that Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate are not acting in good faith. Instead, Republicans have made it clear that they are prepared to hold our entire economy hostage unless you accede to their demands to reduce the deficit on the backs of working families. That is simply unacceptable,” reads the letter obtained by the Guardian.

The letter has been circulated amongst lawmakers at a time when Biden has reportedly signaled some support to compromise on work requirements and rules for federal programs. But Democrats are increasingly concerned about what those negotiations could look like and are looking to the 14th amendment, a US civil war-era addition to the constitution, which states that the validity of public debt “shall not be questioned’”. This could potentially allow Biden to override Congress on the grounds that their failure to raise the ceiling is unconstitutional.

But Biden previously expressed some doubt on that strategy. “I have been considering the 14th amendment,” Biden said last week. “And a man I have enormous respect for, Larry Tribe, who advised me for a long time, thinks that it would be legitimate. But the problem is it would have to be litigated.”

Even so, those behind the letter are up against the Republican party, which has refused to make concessions such as raising taxes on the very wealthy.

“We write to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th amendment of the constitution, which clearly states: ‘the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.’ Using this authority would allow the United States to continue to pay its bills on-time, without delay, preventing a global economic catastrophe.”

From Elon Musk to Rupert Murdoch, a small number of billionaire owners have a powerful hold on so much of the information that reaches the public about what’s happening in the world. The Guardian is different. We have no billionaire owner or shareholders to consider. Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest – not profit motives.

And we avoid the trap that befalls much US media – the tendency, born of a desire to please all sides, to engage in false equivalence in the name of neutrality. While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and for reproductive justice. When we report on issues like the climate crisis, we’re not afraid to name who is responsible. And as a global news organization, we’re able to provide a fresh, outsider perspective on US politics – one so often missing from the insular American media bubble. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.