* White House rules out using 14th Amendment on debt limit
* Obama has no "luxury" to debate constitutional law
* Only Congress has authority to borrow - White House
By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON, July 26 President Barack Obama will
not use a clause in the U.S. Constitution to bypass Congress
and raise the federal government's debt limit on his own, the
White House said on Tuesday.
"It's not available," White House press secretary Jay
Carney said in the administration's firmest dismissal of the
14th Amendment as a way to avoid a U.S. default if Congress
fails to lift the $14.3 trillion debt limit by an Aug. 2
"The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the
authority, not the president, to borrow money and only Congress
can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That is just a
The 14th Amendment stipulates the U.S. public debt "shall
not be questioned" -- which some legal scholars argue would
allow Obama, a Democrat, to sidestep lawmakers and raise the
borrowing limit on his own.
The White House has persistently poured cold water on the
idea that a provision in the Constitution stemming from the
Civil War in the 1860s to make sure Union debts were honored
and Confederate obligations were not could be a way around the
But some influential Democrats have continued to see it as
a legitimate strategy to sidestep a Congress deadlocked over
the debt limit because of fiscally conservative Tea Party
Republicans who will not compromise on any tax increases.
Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, has said that if
it came to averting a U.S. default, he would invoke the 14th
Amendment, raise the debt ceiling and "force the courts to stop
Obama played down this notion on Friday, when he said White
House lawyers were "not persuaded that that is a winning
argument." But his remarks did signal the 14th Amendment route
was at least being reviewed by his administration.
That impression remained intact after comments by Treasury
Secretary Timothy Geithner on Sunday that bypassing Congress
was "not a workable option," which also appeared to stop short
of a flat-out rejection.
On Tuesday, Carney went out of his way to rule it out.
"You can have an esoteric discussion about constitutional
law and what could not or should not be," he said. "But we
don't have the luxury or the time. The law is as it is. That is
how we view it and that is why we have to reach a compromise."
(Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis and Caren Bohan;
Editing by John O'Callaghan)