Democratic Rep.: Debt-ceiling blank check is like Emancipation Proclamation [VIDEO]

Nicholas Ballasy Senior Video Reporter
Font Size:

WASHINGTON — Democratic Illinois Rep. Danny K. Davis told The Daily Caller that President Obama should have the power to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without congressional approval, citing the example of President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as a good use of presidential authority.

“Sometimes when we’ve gotten great answers is when presidents have had enough authority to take some actions,” Davis told TheDC on Capitol Hill Friday. “I mean, remember that we just celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and if Abraham Lincoln had not had the power, authority and the will to make that decision, we may have gone on with the war that was going to last several additional years and much longer, and thousands and thousands of people could have and would have, in all probability, lost their lives.”

“So, I think that we should have enough faith and confidence in the president and the president ought to have the authority to make that decision without Congress placing limits or determinates or determinations, and so yes, I think the president should have the ability to make that decision.”

House Speaker John Boehner opposes giving Obama the authority to unilaterally increase the debt ceiling.

“Congress is never going to give up our ability to control the purse,” Boehner said in December.

“The fact is the debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C.” (RELATED VIDEO: Boehner says Obama wants same ‘unlimited’ power he opposed for Bush)

The U.S. reached the debt limit on New Year’s Eve, but the Treasury Secretary has taken steps to create an additional $200 billion in “headroom” until the ceiling is raised again. The national debt is currently $16.4 trillion.

Dismissing Republican criticism, Davis said Congress should not “hamper” the president on the issue.

“It would certainly be an expression of the kind of power that we were willing and are willing to provide the president with. Power grab? That might be going a bit far,” Davis told TheDC.

“But, it would certainly give the president the kind of power that sometimes is needed for the decision-making that must take place as opposed to the haggling, the wrangling, the discussing, the disagreeing, the cliffhanging and all of those kinds of things.”

Follow Nicholas on Twitter