(WHTM) – U.S. Senator John Fetterman is calling on President Joe Biden to consider using the 14th Amendment to avoid a default on the nation’s debt.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War, is better known for its provisions addressing citizenship and equal protection under the law.

It also includes this clause, which some legal scholars see as relevant to today’s showdown: “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.”

Default, they argue, is therefore unconstitutional and Biden would have a duty to effectively nullify the debt limit if Congress won’t raise it, so that the validity of the country’s debt isn’t questioned.

Fetterman has said he would not support a debt ceiling proposal that “pushes people into poverty” after reports of work requirements or cuts to the food assistance program known as SNAP.

“The entire GOP debt ceiling negotiation is a sad charade, and it’s exactly what’s wrong with Washington,” said Fetterman on Thursday. “We’re playing with fire and the livelihoods of millions just for the GOP to try and turn the screws on hungry Americans. This is the whole reason why the 14th Amendment exists, and we need to be prepared to use it. We cannot let these reckless Republicans hold the economy hostage. And, if our unelected Supreme Court Justices try to block the use of the 14th amendment and blow up our economy, that’s on them.”

Fetterman says he also intends to cosponsor legislation to repeal the debt ceiling.

The Biden administration has been searching for possible ways to allow the U.S. to keep borrowing if Congress can’t come to an agreement.

The Treasury Department says the U.S. may not be able to borrow the money it needs to pay its bills and bondholders as soon as June 1 without congressional action — and that failure could kick the country into a painful recession.

Biden has said his administration is studying the idea of invoking the 14th Amendment. He said he’s skeptical that it is a viable option but the “one thing I’m ruling out is default.”

“The problem is it would have to be litigated,” he said of the constitutional reasoning on Tuesday. If the matter got tied up in court, the government could default anyway.

If and when the current impasse is resolved, he says, he is thinking about looking into whether the 14th Amendment route could be a solution to avert similar showdowns in the future.

“When we get by this, I’m thinking about taking a look at — months down the road — to see whether — what the court would say about whether or not it does work,” Biden says.

His Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has been more blunt, saying it could provoke a “constitutional crisis..”

The Associated Press contributed to this report