Declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional is risky, Biden aides fear

By | May 8, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

Senior White House officials see enormous risks in trying to resolve the debt ceiling impasse without Congress, viewing the unilateral measures floated by some academics only as emergency measures of last resort, according to three people with knowledge of internal conversations.

As they have for months, Biden aides have recently been evaluating a wide range of proposals for acting on the debt limit without the consent of Congress — particularly by invoking the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to declare the limit unconstitutional and keep borrowing to pay bills even if the cap isn’t raised.

But internally, advisers view the options as risky choices that could cause lasting economic damage, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. White House aides do not want to take the proposals completely off the table. If the federal government actually can’t borrow more, the United States could be in uncharted territory with no clear way to avoid calamity, which would make extreme measures more appealing. Administration officials are adamant that Congress must act to raise the debt limit, believing this is the only sure way to avoid financial turmoil.

On Monday, the National Association of Government Employees — which represents thousands of federal workers — sued to challenge the legal basis of the debt ceiling, arguing the law gives the president the unconstitutional authority not to carry out spending laws passed by Congress. The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to prevent the suspension of federal operations due to the debt limit. [Continue reading…]