The Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday urged President Barack Obama to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress failed to pass the necessary legislation before August 3.
"We believe that you have both the authority and a moral obligation to do so in order to avoid an economic catastrophe of historic proportions," a letter by Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to Obama said.
Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment states: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."
Obama has said that the Constitution does not give him authority to raise the federal debt ceiling without Congress.
"I have talked to my lawyers," the president said at town hall meeting. "They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument."
But the Congressional Black Caucus disagrees, claiming the Fourteenth Amendment, the 1935 Supreme Court ruling in Perry v. United States and Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution give Obama the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on an emergency basis.
"Just as President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation at a time of emergency in our Nation's history to free those who were enslaved during the Civil War, today you face a looming calamity that in some respects is just as grave," the letter continued.
The letter was approved by 42 of 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
"The Congressional Black Caucus will stand behind you, and applaud your courage, as you fulfill your obligation to uphold the dictates of the Constitution to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. We urge you to do that which is necessary for the good of the country."