1 of 5 | Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Wednesday called on President Joe Biden to enact a clause in the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling and avoid the United States defaulting in the coming days. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 24 (UPI) -- As the United States inches closer to its first-ever default on the national debt, Sen. Bernie Sanders called on President Joe Biden to enact the 14th Amendment, while House Democrats announced unanimous support for a discharge petition to end the debt limit standoff.
Sanders, I-Vt., made the 14th Amendment plea Wednesday in an op-ed published by Fox News, in which he urged Biden to take the unconventional path and avoid proposed cuts being pushed by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
"While defaulting on our nation's debt would be a disaster, so would enacting the budget Republicans passed in the House in April," Sanders wrote in the piece.
The former presidential candidate called on Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment's public debt clause, so the United States can "continue to pay its bills on time and without delay, prevent an economic catastrophe, and prevent huge cuts to healthcare, education, childcare, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and the needs of our veterans."
Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark told reporters Wednesday that all 213 Democratic lawmakers have now pledged their support for a discharge petition, which would allow lawmakers to bypass leadership and raise the debt ceiling.
However, the parliamentary procedure still needs five House Republican votes to pass the 435-seat chamber.
"We're five signatures away," said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "So for our Republican colleagues who give interviews and go back home and talk about how they want to work together, and talk about how they're not extreme like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and how she doesn't speak for them -- this is their opportunity."
While House Democrats want a clean debt ceiling increase, Republicans have proposed a $1.5 trillion debt limit hike with federal spending cuts of approximately $4.8 trillion over the next decade.
Biden has been negotiating with the Republican-led House and McCarthy for months to strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avert a crisis.
On Tuesday, McCarthy told his Republican colleagues, "We are nowhere near a deal. I need you all to hang with me."
The California Republican did not sound any more optimistic speaking to reporters Wednesday.
"We have to spend less than we spent last year. It is not my fault the Democrats can't give up on their spending," McCarthy said outside the U.S. Capitol, adding he hoped to wrap up discussions by the end of the day ahead of a week-long break over the Memorial Day long weekend.
Sanders said Republicans' proposed spending cuts "could impact the lives of virtually every American in our country for decades to come."
"If Congress does not agree to impose massive cuts on the needs of working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor -- they will allow, for the first time in our history, the U.S. to default on the national debt," Sanders wrote in the article.
"This action will have a devastating impact on our economy, destroy millions of jobs and cause interest rates on mortgages and auto loans to skyrocket," he said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned of an impending default, calling on Congress to raise the debt ceiling or deal with dire consequences. Millions of Social Security payments would immediately stop in that scenario, as would some other federal services.
Yellen has said the United States is on course to reach its $31 trillion debt ceiling and no longer be able to borrow funds by June 1, which would trigger a default. Earlier this month, she said "the U.S. economy hangs in the balance."