As arguments on the debt ceiling continue, Jim Clyburn is taking his viewpoint beyond the limits of the House floor.
The U.S. Representative of South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District is turning to both local and national media, as well as constituents, to extend his request: Mr. President, don’t let partisan politics affect the financial security of the country and its citizens.
And just how can the president achieve that? By using the 14th Amendment, Clyburn says.
Passed over 140 years ago to guarantee rights of former slaves, the 14th Amendment also addresses debt and budget in its Section Four, which reads “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.”
In an interview with MSNBC earlier today, he said “If the President gets up to August 2nd, without a piece of legislation, he should not allow this country to go into default. He should sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment and send that to all the governmental agencies for us to continue to pay our bills.
“He could do that with a stroke of a pen,” Clyburn offered along with historic examples, including the Emancipation Proclamation, of such executive orders.
“Sometimes executives must order that things get done.”
Pres. Obama has met with House Republicans many times recently regarding the national budget, but no agreements were reached. If no resolution is achieved and then signed by the president by August 2, the federal government could face potential default, and would lack in funds to fully pay social security, veterans’ benefits and other regular expenses.
The 14th Amendment allows the president to bypass those problems, Clyburn states, and can avoid the multiple risks associated with default by doing so.
The congressman introduced the argument at a recent House Democratic Caucus meeting, receiving applause for the idea, according to caucus chair Rep. John Larson (Conn).
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a short-term solution in a budgetary bill, in which the debt ceiling would only be extended for a limited period in exchange for other cuts, but even that isn’t good enough, Clyburn says, who asks that such terms be rejected.
“I would say to the president that if that’s what lands on his desk – a short-term lifting of the debt ceiling – he should put it on his desk next to an Executive Order that he will have drawn up,” Clyburn said yesterday at a press conference from the Capitol.
“And with the same pen that he vetoes that short-term debt ceiling, he should sign an Executive Order invoking the 14th Amendment to this issue.”
In direct follow-up with local news yesterday evening, the congressman told Columbia’s WLTX, “I urge Pres. Barack Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress fails to come up with a satisfactory plan before the Tuesday deadline.”
Former Pres. Bill Clinton readily agrees, as well. In an interview last week with The National Memo, Clinton said Obama should use the 14th Amendment option “without hesitation.”
The White House still states intentions to refrain from the option, however.
A vote on Boehner’s short-term resolution was scheduled for today, but was continuously delayed.
Inner party division could be part of Boehner’s problem with his proposal. At least 216 votes from the 240 Republicans in the House are needed to pass the bill, but tension between the GOP and its Tea Party-affiliated freshmen members may stand in the way, according to CNN reports.
After being postponed until 6 p.m. EDT, delays resumed. A floor debate on the topic was halted, as well. At 10:25 p.m., Huffington Post reporter Jennifer Bendery tweeted “no vote tonight” from the capitol, attributing the confirmation to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). At 10:45 p.m., Politico reporter Jake Sherman tweeted notice of a House Republican Conference meeting tomorrow morning.
A bill must be passed by next Tuesday, Aug. 2. If none is, the only other option the president will have to avoid default is to invoke use of the 14th Amendment.
Included in the bills the government could be unable to pay if no deal is reached by August 2 are federal payroll, Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ benefits.
About 50,000 federal government employees reside in South Carolina; the salaries of about 7,300 state government workers – over 12 percent of all state employees – are funded by the federal government, as well.
Approximately 820,000 South Carolinians are Social Security recipients, and 784,000 are enrolled in Medicare. Almost 410,000 veterans call the Palmetto State home.
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