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Clyburn: It’s 14th Amendment Time

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With the Aug. 2 debt ceiling deadline approaching and no agreement in sight, some House Democrats are calling on President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling on his own by citing authority in the 14th Amendment.

The idea has gained little attraction in recent weeks, but with bipartisan talks now dead and dueling proposals in the House and Senate facing an uncertain fate, House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) suggested to his Democratic colleagues on Wednesday that Obama “ought to veto” any short-term extension and “next to the veto message ought to be an executive order invoking the 14th amendment.”

“There was significant applause” to his idea, Clyburn said about his proposal, which Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) told reporters is “a fail-safe mechanism.”

A provision in the 14th amendment notes, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” President Bill Clinton last week came out in support of Obama using the provision to raise the debt ceiling, but Obama has largely shunned the idea. And while some Democratic colleagues hailed Clyburn’s proposal, a senior Democratic aide cautioned “this is not a Democratic position.”

“We do no need a constitutional crisis on top of all this,” the aide said. Obama “is clear this is not an option.”

House Democrats are beginning to look at alternatives as the debt limit deadline draws near, and aides said Wednesday there will likely be a fresh push from some Caucus members for a clean debt limit vote to avoid default. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) led the charge for a clean debt limit vote last spring, but the House decisively shut down his proposal, 318-97.

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