House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dumped the last shovel-full of dirt on the idea that President Obama can ignore the national borrowing limit if Congress refuses to raise it.
At her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill, she gave reporters a glimpse into a Thursday meeting at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders, which, she said, became dominated by the question of the Constitutionality of the debt ceiling.
“At our meeting they spent a whole lot of time talking about the 14th Amendment. I said, ‘you know what? Why are we talking about something that’s not going to happen.’”
At a Friday caucus meeting, just before her press conference, she told Democrats the idea’s a no-go, according to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who also believes setting debt limit is in Congress’ purview. “The leader said she agreed and there was general agreement with that. I do not think the 14th amendemnt option is alive in anyone’s mind. It would be a terrible idea,” he said as the meeting broke.
Not much to add to that, except that the Treasury Department has also foreclosed on the idea of blowing past the debt limit if Congress fails to act. In a statement to the New York Times, Treasury’s General Counsel wrote, “Secretary Geithner has always viewed the debt limit as a binding legal constraint that can only be raised by Congress.”
Additional reporting by Benjy Sarlin.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.