Treasury official dismisses using 14th Amendment to avoid default

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Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Sunday dismissed the idea of President Biden using the 14th Amendment to avert a default on the national debt.

“Can you just say yes or no, whether or not the president has the authority to raise the debt limit on his own, without Congress?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked on “State of the Union.”

“What the President said was that he did not think the 14th Amendment would solve our problems now. The only thing that can solve our problems now is for Congress to lift the debt limit, which they’ve done, by the way, 78 times — and last, in the last administration, they did it three times without negotiation, and that’s what the president wants them to do now,” Adeyemo said.

A clause in the 14th Amendment has been floated as a possible last-ditch fix as the U.S. faces the threat of default, as some legal scholars argue the clause gives the president power to take action on the debt ceiling, even if Congress doesn’t. Democrats have been pushing Biden to make the move.

The country passed its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling earlier this year, and the Treasury Department has said it could run out of emergency measures to ward off default as soon as next month.

The White House and lawmakers have otherwise been locked in talks on the issue, with House Republicans pushing for a debt ceiling increase that comes with spending cuts and the administration pushing for a “clean” hike.

Biden indicated last week that he was considering using the 14th Amendment, using it as leverage in talks with Republicans. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week had warned that the move could mean a “constitutional crisis.”

“So, no 14th Amendment?” Bash pressed on Sunday.

“The president has made it clear that he does not think it would solve our problems now,” Adeyemo said.

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