10/05/2013 05:08 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2013

House Democrat: I'm Still Hopeful Obama Could Use 14th Amendment To Raise Debt Ceiling


WASHINGTON -- Congress has a hard deadline of Oct. 17 to raise the debt ceiling, and some House Democrats are still holding out for President Barack Obama to take matters into his own hands if lawmakers can't get it done.

When asked if she thinks Obama should cite the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling himself if House Republicans pick a fight over it, Delegate Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands) told The Huffington Post: "If we have to, yes." Some Republicans have been downplaying the consequences of a default, despite dire warnings from economists of the damage it would do to both the U.S. and the global economy.

Christensen said she knows the president has stated that the constitutional approach is not an option for him. The White House repeatedly rejects the idea when it comes up. But she thinks Obama could be bluffing.

"I'm hoping he's just playing it close to his chest and doesn't want to give the other side any ammunition against it in advance," she said with a smile.

Other prominent Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have advocated the idea as well. They point to Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which 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.” Since the "public debt" cannot be questioned, then, Democrats argue, the debt ceiling itself could be seen as unconstitutional.

For now, though, Christensen said administration officials haven't given any indication that Obama is ready to go there, even during private talks with Democrats.

"Everyone who's come to talk to us from the White House has said no," she said, specifically citing meetings with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

"It will invite a fight, I know," Christensen added. "But I think the faith and credit of the United States, and all that could happen, is worth that fight."



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