Yellen calls using the 14th Amendment to address debt ceiling crisis an 'emergency option'

May 8, 2023
Robert Ayers

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janey Yellen, over the weekend, seemed to come out against President Joe Biden using the 14th Amendment to address the debt ceiling crisis. 

Yellen did so during an appearance Sunday on ABC's This Week. 

Before we get to what Yellen had to say, though, let's take a look at what is going on.


Biden and the Democrats are in the process of negotiating with House Republicans in order to try to get them to raise the debt ceiling, the self-imposed limit on the money that the U.S. government is allowed to borrow in order to pay the bills.

Republicans, however, are refusing to give in without significant concessions from the Democrats.

Should an agreement not be reached by June 1, the U.S. government will default, and such a default would entail a number of negative economic consequences.

Biden's threat

Now, with negotiations not going his way, Biden and his administration are considering whether or not to invoke the 14th Amendment to deal with the debt crisis.

The relevant part of the 14th Amendment states, "[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."

The basic idea of the Biden administration is to use this provision to argue that it would be unconstitutional for the government to stop paying its debts. And so, the administration would simply continue issuing debt regardless of whether the debt ceiling is or is not raised.

Biden, thus far, claims that he has not yet reached the point in which he is ready to invoke the 14 Amendment. "I've not gotten there yet," Biden said during an MSNBC interview on Friday.

Yellen weighs in

During her ABC appearance on Sunday, Yellen, in general, seemed to be against the idea of invoking the 14 Amendment to deal with this issue.

"I don’t want to consider emergency options," Yellen said. She also suggested that it would not be a "good option and that it could lead to a "constitutional crisis."

Yellen, instead, suggested that Congress was the only solution to the problem.

She said:

There is no way to protect our financial system in our economy other than Congress doing its job and raising the debt ceiling and enabling us to pay our bills, and we should not get to the point where we need to consider whether the President can go on issuing debt.

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