Democrats Call On Biden To Raise Debt Ceiling Without Congress

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Six Democratic senators are calling on President Joe Biden to cease negotiations with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.

Biden began negotiations with McCarthy and other congressional leaders in early May, after the House passed legislation that would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or through March 2024. The negotiations, which initially included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have since been limited to McCarthy and his aides, White House officials Louisa Terrell and Steve Richetti, and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young. Biden signaled a willingness to introduce new work requirements for welfare recipients, worrying some Democrats.

“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,” the letter says, according to The Washington Post. “We write to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Using this authority would allow the United States to continue to pay its bills on-time, without delay, preventing a global economic catastrophe.”

Signatories include Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Vermont Sens. Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch. The senators oppose negotiations between Biden and McCarthy that could lead to tightened work requirements for food stamps. As a senator in the 1990s, Biden supported work requirements for the program, also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The 14th Amendment states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Biden has admitted that he would most likely be unable to use the clause to raise the debt ceiling, and some constitutional experts have called such a move impeachable. (RELATED: ‘Substantial Movement’: Biden Optimistic On McCarthy Meeting Over Debt Ceiling)

Republican Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer expressed skepticism in an interview that Biden could unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.

“I don’t know how he does that. I mean, I don’t know why he wouldn’t try that because he’s tried everything else,” Palmer, the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, told the Daily Caller. “The American people are literally having their representative government taken away from them by executive order and agency action.”

The U.S. Treasury may run out of funds to make payments on the national debt as early as June 1, Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned.