President Joe Biden stated on Sunday that he believes he can raise the nation’s debt ceiling without an agreement with Congress, but he did not commit to doing 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.”
Politico reported last week that Biden administration officials informed progressives that invoking the 14th Amendment would be hazardous and that the president was not actively considering it.
Some argue that since the 14th Amendment states that the public debt of the United States “shall not be questioned,” Biden had the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own.
Biden adopted both a collegial and confrontational tone on Sunday, expressing optimism that congressional leaders have signaled a desire to negotiate an agreement to raise the debt limit and prevent a June 1 default.
“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.
Fox News reports that Biden depicted the Republican Party as the obstacle to an agreement.
“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.”
Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Biden if he deemed himself culpable in the event of a national default. Biden responded, “On the merits, based on what I’ve offered, I would be blameless.”
Then, he criticized the GOP for political maneuvering.
“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.”
Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House, expressed displeasure with Joe Biden.
McCarthy expressed annoyance at what he termed Biden’s late-stage demands.
“We were in a good place, he went overseas, and now he wants to change the debate? That’s not healthy,” McCarthy said, according to The Washington Post.
McCarthy also disagreed with Biden’s statement that while he will address expenditure cuts, he will not rule out tax increases.
“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.
According to one expert, the issue goes beyond Biden’s authority.
“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.
“The only option where there is clarity, and you can with confidence avoid economic damage, is Congress acting, as they have in the past,” he said.