President Joe Biden said Sunday he believes he can raise the nation’s debt ceiling without striking a deal with Congress, but stopped short of saying he would do so.
“I’m looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority — I think we have the authority,” Biden said in a news conference before leaving Japan, where he attended the G7 summit of world leaders, according to The Hill.
“The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it would not be appealed, and as a consequence past the date in question and still default on the debt. That is a question that I think is unresolved.”
Last week, Politico reported that Biden administration officials have told progressives that invoking the 14th Amendment would be risky and was not an option Biden was actively considering.
The 14th Amendment says America’s public debt “shall not be questioned,” which some argue means Biden had the clout to raise the debt ceiling on his own.
Biden took both a collegial and confrontational tone Sunday, saying that he was encouraged that congressional leaders indicated they want to negotiate a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default that would otherwise take place on June 1.
“So I’m assuming that we mean what we say and we’ll figure out a way to not have to default,” Biden said, according to the Hill.
But Biden later lashed out at Republicans.
“I can’t guarantee that they will not force a default by doing something outrageous,” he said, according to CNN.
Does Biden have the authority to invoke the 14th Amendment of the Constitution?
Biden also painted the GOP as the barrier to an agreement, according to Fox News.
“I’ve done my part,” Biden said, adding “it’s time for the other side to move their team positions because much of what they were proposed is simply quite frankly, unacceptable.”
When asked by Peter Doocy of Fox News if Biden considered himself blameless if the nation defaults, Biden replied, “On the merits, based on what I’ve offered, I would be blameless.”
Then he jabbed the GOP as maneuvering for political advantage.
“On the politics of it, no one would be blameless. And by the way, that’s one of the, one of the things some [people] are contemplating. Well, I gotta be careful here. I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the House who know the damage that it would do to the economy and because I am president, and presidents are responsible for everything, Biden would take the blame. And that’s the one way to make sure Biden’s not re-elected.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vented some displeasure with Biden.
McCarthy said he was frustrated at what he described as Biden’s late-stage demands.
McCarthy also took issue with a comment from Biden that while he will discuss spending cuts, tax increases are not off the table.
“He’s now bringing something to the table that everyone said was off the table. It seems as though he wants to fault more than he wants a deal,” McCarthy said, according to CNN, adding that he would not agree to tax cuts.
One expert said the issue is broader than Biden’s power.
“You have to worry about the interest rates, the market reaction, the effect on financial markets that rely on Treasurys. There’s no way to avoid potentially significant economic damage given the debate that would ensue,” said David Kamin, a past deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in the Biden administration, according to The Washington Post.