Senate Democratic leaders wrote a letter to President Barack Obama to let him know they would support him if he raised the nation’s debt ceiling unilaterally, without congressional approval, by either invoking the 14th Amendment or using some other legal justification
In a letter signed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and other Democrats and dated Jan. 11, the Democratic Senate leaders wrote they believed Obama “must be willing to take any lawful steps” to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis—without Congressional approval, if necessary.
The leaders also warned House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to not allow conservative members of Congress to hold the nation’s economy and reputation “hostage” during the upcoming negotiations concerning raising the debt ceiling.
Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said if she had a choice, she would invoke the 14th Amendment “in a second” to raise the debt ceiling if she were president.
Democrats want Obama to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally because they do not want to cut spending, which Republicans will demand in return for authorizing the debt ceiling to be raised.
During the last round of debt ceiling negotiations in the summer of 2011, Obama was asked if he would invoke the 14th Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
Obama replied then that he had talked to his lawyers, and they were “not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”