It’s getting late on Capitol Hill this Saturday evening. And it’s only going to get later — the Senate vote on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to raise the debt limit is coming after midnight, meaning members of Congress are cooling their heels and getting frustrated.
That might be the reason more and more Democrats are calling on President Obama to handle this debt limit fiasco unilaterally by ignoring the debt limit via a reading of the 14th Amendment popular with progressives.
Another reason may be that the scheme is actually in the mix as negotiations over how to raise the debt limit grind on as the deadline gets closer and closer.That would be a big change from the way things have been going so far. The White House, Treasury Dept., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have been fairly adamant in their rejection of the 14th Amendment option.
But fed-up Democrats on the Hill have been pushing it for days anyway and as they bounce around the halls of of the Capitol Saturday waiting for something — anything — to happen, they’re repeating their plaintive cry for Constitutional relief.
“I’m talking about that there’s precedents for presidents to do things where the Constitution doesn’t give the president explicit authority but it doesn’t prohibit the president from doing it, and I believe there’s a basis in the 14th amendment as decided in Perry v. United States,” Sen Tom Harkin (D-IA) said on the Senate floor. “I think the president – barring action from the Congress – not only has the authority to do so, he has the responsibility to not let this country default.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who already called on Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment days ago, repeated the suggestion on the floor tonight as time marched on and the sun outside grew increasingly faint.
The Huffington Post‘s Jennifer Bendery reported Saturday night that Pelosi may be changing her tune on the idea. Citing an unnamed member of Congress, Bendery reports that Pelosi is supportive of a 14th Amendment option behind the scenes.
Other Congressional leaders have been more supportive right out in the open. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said last week that he supported the idea of using the 14th Amendment as a last resort. Other members of the leadership — Democratic Reps. John Larson and James Clyburn — have said the same thing.
It’s pretty close to the 11th Hour here in Washington — just the time when supporters of using the 14th Amendment to fix the debt ceiling mess have said it would be time to pull the trigger. Is that on the table? Officially — in terms of public statements from the White House — no. But the people watching the clock tick away on Capitol Hill say that it could well be creeping its way up the overhanging tablecloth.
Igor Bobic contributed to this article