The Washington Times - July 27, 2011, 11:37AM

With talks still stalled on Capitol Hill, a key House Democratic leader said Wednesday that President Obama should take another look at using the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to unilaterally raise the debt limit to provide the markets with stability.

Rep. James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who is part of the party’s leadership, raised the idea with fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting, and drew applause.


Afterward, he told reporters that the move should be used if Republicans insist on a short-term extension rather than a long-term one. He acknowledged questions about the legality of the move, but said at least it would provide stability while the legislative process works.

“I believe that something like this will bring calm to the American people and will bring needed stability to our financial markets,” he said.

The fourth clause of the 14th Amendment reads: “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.”

Some have argued that means the government must pay all its debts and cannot default, which means the president could unilaterally pay all obligations.

But the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, in an advisory report to Congress, said earlier this month that the amendment does not grant that authority to the executive branch. And Mr. Obama, citing advice from White House lawyers, has dismissed using the amendment.