Passing the GOP debt ceiling bill would be 'equally disastrous' as a default, Bernie Sanders says — and he's joining 10 of his Democratic colleagues in urging Biden to bypass Congress and permanently solve the crisis
Bernie Sanders joined 10 Democratic colleagues in urging Biden to use the 14th Amendment to address the debt ceiling.
The 14th Amendment would declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, getting rid of it forever.
Biden has previously been hesitant to take that route due to potential legal action.
The pressure keeps growing for President Joe Biden to solve the debt ceiling crisis without Congress.
On Thursday, 11 Democratic senators, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and John Fetterman, officially sent a letter to Biden urging him to prepare to use the 14th Amendment to address the debt ceiling.
As Insider reported on Wednesday, Warren and Sanders were among a smaller group of lawmakers circulating the letter that voiced support for invoking Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that "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."
Legal experts have argued that clause would declare a default unconstitutional, meaning Biden could continue paying the country's bills without having to worry about the congressional drama that comes with raising the debt ceiling. With a default as soon two weeks away, Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy have yet to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. McCarthy recently passed a bill in the House that would raise the debt ceiling through March 2024 accompanied by over $4.5 trillion in spending cuts, but Biden vowed to veto that bill, maintaining a debt ceiling increase should be clean and bipartisan.
During Thursday remarks vouching for the 14th Amendment, Sanders bashed McCarthy's bill and the potential economic fallout it would cause.
"If the right wing Republicans force a default, it will mean the loss of millions of American jobs. Interest rates on mortgages and credit cards will soar. And Americans will lose trillions of dollars in household wealth," Sanders said.
"As disastrous as it would be to default on our debt, it would be equally disastrous to pass the outrageous Republican proposals," Sanders continued. "Under their proposals, it has been estimated that up to 21 million Americans would lose Medicaid, ripping away the health care they need to stay alive. Over a million women, infants and children would not receive the nutrition they need to stay healthy."
He added that "using the 14th Amendment would allow the United States to continue to pay its bills on time and without delay, prevent an economic catastrophe, and prevent devastating cuts to some of the most vulnerable people in this country."
The White House did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the letter. But Biden told reporters last week that while he had been "considering" using the 14th amendment to address the debt ceiling, he was concerned about potential litigation. However, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told Insider on Wednesday that he's "not sure anybody would even have standing to get into court."
"There's a binding legal requirement to pay bondholders, there's a binding legal requirement to pay Social Security and Medicare recipients," Raskin said.
Still, McCarthy said earlier this month that he opposes using the 14th amendment, and not all Democratic lawmakers are on board, either. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy told NBC News that he doesn't "want to give Joe Biden advice, but I think we should do our job. I think that's a precedent to just absolve Congress from being adults."
It's unclear if the 14th Amendment will continue to gain steam, as McCarthy on Thursday expressed optimisim on the direction negotiations have been going. He told reporters that he sees "the path" to bringing a bill to the House floor next week, adding that "I just believe where we were a week ago and where we are today is a much better place because we've got the right people in the room discussing it in a very professional manner."
But nothing is a done deal, and some Democrats want Biden to be prepared to bypass Congress and save the country from default if the time comes.
"The entire GOP debt ceiling negotiation is a sad charade, and it's exactly what's wrong with Washington. We're playing with fire and the livelihoods of millions just for the GOP to try and turn the screws on hungry Americans," Fetterman said in a Thursday statement. "This is the whole reason why the 14th Amendment exists, and we need to be prepared to use it. We cannot let these reckless Republicans hold the economy hostage."
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