John Cornyn: Invoking The 14th Amendment On The Debt Limit Is 'Crazy Talk'
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is rejecting one solution to the debt limit impasse being floated by Democrats that argues the president has the authority to ignore the ceiling because it is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.
"That's crazy talk," said Cornyn on "Fox News Sunday."
The 14th Amendment reads, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned."
If the White House were to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, it could continue to meet its financial obligations and leave many Republicans and Tea Party members in the tough spot of arguing against the plain wording of the Constitution.
"It's not acceptable for Congress and the president not to do their job and to say somehow the president has the authority to then basically do this by himself," Cornyn continued. "We ought to sit down and work together, and it shouldn't take the form of press conferences like the president gave last week, where he was essentially the schoolmarm, scolding Congress for not getting its job done when, in fact, he is the one who has not stepped up and given us a proposal.
"We'd like to see what his proposal is," Cornyn concluded. "Let's do it in the light of day, not in secret behind-closed-door negotiation -- only to spring it on the people at the last moment, saying it's this, take it or leave it, or else there is financial calamity."
Last week during a briefing with reporters, President Obama dodged a question about the 14th Amendment and the debt ceiling.
"I'm not a Supreme Court Justice, so I'm not going to put my constitutional law professor hat on here," he said.
But in May at a Politico Playbook breakfast, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner specifically pointed to the amendment, even whipping out his pocket-sized Constitution to make his point.
More recently, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said invoking the 14th amendment in the debt debate is an option "certainly worth exploring."
Shumer warned, however, that the amendment would probably not come into play during the current debate.
"It needs a little more exploration and study," he said. "It's probably not ripe to pursue at this time, because it hasn't had that study and you wouldn't want to just go ahead and issue the debt and have one of the courts reverse it."
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), an attorney, also told The Huffington Post the issue had been raised "in some private debate between senators."