Pelosi Unsure on 11th & 14th Amendments: ‘Whatever It Is, I’m with the Constitution’

Elizabeth Harrington | November 15, 2012 | 3:53pm EST
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (AP)

( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confused the 14thand 11th Amendments when suggesting the president could bypass Congress and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, saying, “Whatever it is, I’m with the constitution.”

During her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Pelosi was asked about the need for two separate deals in Congress to both raise the approaching debt ceiling and address the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts.

“I would hope not,” Pelosi said.  “I would hope that by now—well, me, I’m with the 11th Amendment, so.”

“Is it the 11th Amendment?” she asked.  “That—14th is it?”

“Whatever it is, I’m with the Constitution of the United States,” said the Minority Leader.

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The 11th amendment forbids a person to sue a state in which they do not live, stating, “The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.”

Pelosi seemingly was referring to section four of the 14th amendment, which states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

Some have proposed, including former president Bill Clinton, that the president could administratively raise the debt ceiling by invoking this section of the law.

“Really, we have the full faith and credit of the United States,” Pelosi said.  “You mentioned the debt ceiling and the rest, and again, if we all go to the table with good faith, budget agreements have been made over and over again.”

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t have one now,” she added.  “Unless there is an anti-government ideology on the part of the Republicans to undermine any of the good will that is there.”

As she criticized Republicans, Pelosi said she hoped to see a “grand bargain” to avoid the fiscal cliff and tackle the tax cuts, which expire at the end of the year.

“If you’re a progressive, as I am, you don’t see any value in a big budget deficit,” she said.  “Because the interest on the debt alone—the debt service—it robs from investments that could be made or deficit reduction that could take place.  So, we all know that we have to reduce the deficit.”

“And one of the ways we got here were tax cuts for the wealthy that did not produce jobs,” Pelosi said.  “So let’s not go back to a place or continue on a path that got us into this fix in the first place, but let us go to the table of good faith that we want something to happen because I do think that if nothing happens the consequences could be great.”

As the Treasury Department explains, “The Debt Subject to Limit is the maximum amount of money the Government is allowed to borrow without receiving additional authority from Congress. The current statutory limit is $16.394 trillion.”   Under current law, the Congress – House and Senate – must pass legislation to approve a raise in the debt ceiling and the president can then sign it into law.

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