WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should use the 14th Amendment to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional in the event that Congress hurtles toward another debt showdown.
"I'm a big fan of the Constitution," Pelosi said during a discussion on raising the debt ceiling in a sit-down with reporters. "The credit validity of the United States shall not be in question."
Asked if she expected Obama to use the 14th Amendment as a last resort for avoiding a debt default and other economic consequences, something the president said was not an option during last year's debt stand-off, Pelosi shrugged.
"I don't have any idea. But I think he should. I think he should," she said.
The Democratic leader privately endorsed the concept to members of her caucus during last summer's debate. As Congress inched closer to default, progressive Democrats increasingly called on Obama to use the constitutional option as an 11th-hour solution to averting a crisis. In the end, he never did.
The provision at the heart of the constitutional debate, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Democrats essentially argued that since the "public debt" cannot be questioned, then the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.
Pelosi said Wednesday that lessons were learned from last year's debt ceiling debacle.
"You cannot put the country through the uncertainty. We lifted the debt ceiling, right? We still got the credit rating taken down because of the uncertainty of it all," she said. "You cannot flirt with this. This is really dangerous."
"I would like to see the Constitution used to protect the country's full faith and credit, as the Constitution does."
Before moving on to another topic, the minority leader reined in her comments somewhat and said it is ultimately up to Obama to decide how to proceed in debt ceiling negotiations.
"Again, that's my opinion. I'm in a different branch of government. In the minority, in the House," she said. "What do I know about what the president's going to do?"
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