- Mexican train carrying 1,300 migrants headed toward U.S. derails
- Secret Service begins regular K-9 patrols around White House
- Pentagon’s human memory-chip program moves forward
- Obama blasts GOP, ignores immigration crisis in Texas speech
- Marine Warfighting Lab tests the Godzilla of amphibious assault vehicles
- Harry Reid: Birth-control ruling the worst Supreme Court decision in 25 years
- Vet suicides ‘horrible human cost’ of VA dysfunction: lawmaker
- First marijuana customer in Spokane says he was fired
- Hagel: ‘Make no mistake,’ ISIL is an ‘imminent’ threat to U.S.
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to ‘fight for national sovereignty’
White House won’t sidestep Hill on debt ceiling
Carney: Power to raise borrowing limit is legislative
Question of the Day
Even with year-end budget talks at a standstill, the White House said Thursday it will not do an end-run around Congress and claim constitutional powers to raise the debt ceiling on its own.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Mr. Obama thinks that only Congress can raise the debt ceiling — the legal limit on how much the U.S. Treasury can borrow.
He shot down an argument that's gained traction among liberal advocates and some Democrats on Capitol Hill that the Constitution already guarantees all federal debt, so the borrowing ceiling is irrelevant.
"The administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period," Mr. Carney said.
His words come as all sides are negotiating to head off the "fiscal cliff" — the looming expiration of tax cuts and imposition of automatic spending cuts. The $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which the federal government will hit at the end of this year, has become a new focal point in the conversations.
After analysts said last year's brinkmanship put the government on the edge of default, Mr. Obama has called for Congress to turn over debt authority to him altogether.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, proposed to hold a vote on that proposal — apparently hoping enough Democrats would vote against it that it would embarrass the president.
But hours later, Senate Democrats agreed to hold a vote, forcing Mr. McConnell to filibuster his own proposed vote.
"This morning, the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal. Now I told everyone that we are willing to have that vote, up-or-down vote. Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the chamber's top Democrat.
Mr. McConnell countered that big issues like this one always take 60 votes to pass the Senate, so it wasn't unusual to hold it to that standard.
Right now the government's debt stands at $16.3 trillion and will bump up against the limit later this month, although the Treasury Department has tools it can use to delay crossing the line through early next year.
Republicans want Mr. Obama to agree to deeper spending cuts in exchange for them allowing more debt authority — the same deal they struck last summer.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, argues that any increase in the debt limit must again be matched by greater amounts of deficit reduction.
But the president warned Republican leaders not to go down that road. The 2011 fight sent stocks plunging and prompted Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating, he said.
During remarks to corporate CEOs at the Business Roundtable on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said he would not "play that game again," arguing that another debt-ceiling fight would be a "catastrophe" for the nation.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner in an interview on CNBC on Wednesday echoed the president's words.
"We are not prepared to have the American economy held hostage to periodic threats that Republicans will force the country to default on our obligations," he said.
Instead, the White House wants to make permanent a system used during last year's $2.2 trillion debt-limit hike. Designed by Mr. McConnell, the mechanism requires the president to submit a formal notice to Congress of the need to lift the debt ceiling.
Congress can allow the borrowing to increase by doing nothing, or it could pass a resolution of disapproval, which the president has the power to veto.
But Mr. McConnell said Republicans would fight any attempt to cement last year's one-time method into permanent law, calling it a "power grab that has no support here."
Last year, Republicans conceded to the one-time debt-limit mechanism only because the White House signed off on spending cuts that nearly equated the increase in the debt ceiling, but Mr. Obama, running on the momentum from his re-election, says he's not willing to agree to such a scenario this time.
With both sides digging in, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, said he wouldn't dismiss the constitutional option as quickly as the White House had.
"I don't think they ought to rule it out," Mr. Durbin said. "After the Congress has voted to incur the debt, after the votes are on the record, to ask to borrow the money to pay that debt is obviously a reasonable conclusion."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- GOP senators want IG probe of Sebelius' 'Obamacare' fundraising
- Teaming up with Christie, Obama says Jersey shore 'back in business'
- No Moore: Obama flubs name of Oklahoma city devastated by tornado, calls it 'Monroe'
- Obama to Okla. tornado victims: 'We have got your back'
- Aide involved in Benghazi talking points scrubbing promoted by Obama
Latest Blog Entries
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama seeks brisk passage of border children funding bill
- GOP aims to sue Obama first over health care employer mandate
- Democrats take aim at First Amendment rights
- Stockman wants House to arrest Lerner over IRS case
- IRS employee suspended for pro-Obama activities
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Senate majority leader practices politics of personal destruction
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to 'fight for national sovereignty'
- HUSAIN: The fake caliph of 'The Islamic State'
- IRS employee suspended for pro-Obama activities
- Va. Democrat reportedly seeks nude shots of Kendall Jones
- HUSAR: Mexicos Pena Nieto passes the immigration bucket
- Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi denied freedom by Mexican judge
- Pentagon's human memory-chip program moves forward; two universities awarded contracts
- PRUDEN: 'Dirty Harry' Reids increasing eccentricity
- GOP: Lerner warned IRS employees to hide information from Congress
- Amid border crisis, Obama to take 15-day vacation in Martha's Vineyard
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs
U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener