WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the president on Sunday to drop his resistance to the idea and simply bypass the upcoming debate over raising the debt ceiling by deeming the entire cap unconstitutional.
Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Pelosi offered her strongest endorsement to-date of the 14th Amendment option, which holds that Congress doesn't have the power to use the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking device because the validity of the debt "shall not be questioned."
Nancy Pelosi: Well, you ask the Republicans, because we always passed the debt ceiling. When President Bush was president, as he was incurring these massive debts, and the Republicans weren't saying 'boo' at the time. There should be, this is a conversation where there should be no doubt. In fact, if I were president, I'd use the 14th Amendment, which says that the debt of the United States will always be paid.
Bob Schieffer: You would just go ahead and do it, you wouldn't wait for the Congress?
Nancy Pelosi: I would just go do it. But the Congress has incurred much of this debt. And so what are you saying, we incurred it but we're not going to pay it? If you want to say, 'We are not going to do it so much in the future,' well that's another thing. But you can't say, 'I'm not paying my past debts.'
The 14th amendment option is gaining popularity among Democrats on the Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged the president to deploy it when the two were contemplating the contours of the just-completed fiscal cliff debate.
The White House, however, has resisted the option, arguing that they don't have the legal power to do so and that, even if they did, the fact that they had to resort to it would still send terrible economic signals.
"This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling -- period," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said early in December.