THE RESET: Obama, Congress spar over guns and debt

By: By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
By: By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
FILE - In this July 7, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, listens at left as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with Congressional leadership to discuss the debt in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. In the heated talk about deep spending cuts that will dominate Congress in the coming weeks, one thing is likely to be in short supply: details. The reason is simple. Americans embrace the general, abstract idea of reducing federal spending. Their support quickly fades, however, when specific programs are targeted. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

FILE - In this July 7, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, listens at left as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with Congressional leadership to discuss the debt in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. In the heated talk about deep spending cuts that will dominate Congress in the coming weeks, one thing is likely to be in short supply: details. The reason is simple. Americans embrace the general, abstract idea of reducing federal spending. Their support quickly fades, however, when specific programs are targeted. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(AP) -- Members of Congress are furiously arguing over two provisions of the U.S. Constitution: the Second Amendment's right to bear arms and the 14th Amendment's statement that "the validity of the public debt ... shall not be questioned."

They're at the heart of two of the most heated current debates now before Congress — on restricting gun ownership and raising the government's borrowing ceiling to pay current bills.

President Barack Obama is considering ways to circumvent Congress on one — but not the other.

He is expected to unveil a comprehensive gun-control package as early as Wednesday. It's expected to include controversial proposals to ban assault weapons, increase background checks and limit the capacity of ammunition magazines.

But he's also expected to outline 19 other steps on guns he plans to take by executive action alone, bypassing Congress.

The Second Amendment protecting an individual's right to possess and carry firearms was adopted on December 15, 1791.

Meanwhile, Obama is resisting suggestions by many Democrats and some constitutional scholars to act on his own to bypass and challenge the present, congressionally set limit on the government's borrowing authority.

They cite the 14th Amendment, ratified July 28, 1868, which holds that the "public debt" cannot be questioned.

Although that provision was originally meant to ensure payment of Union debts after the Civil War, those advocating its use in the current debate are challenging the constitutionality of congressional efforts to limit borrowing to pay bills.

Obama's not buying into that argument — and says Congress must act to raise the congressionally set $16.4-trillion debt ceiling. If that ceiling is not raised by sometime in February or early March, the government will not be able to pay all its bills.

"America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they've already racked up," he said.

___

Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum
Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 187086531