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Explaining why he has no choice but to demand an increase in the legal limit on the national debt, President Barack Obama said at a Monday press conference that Congress orders him to spend money.

“This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending,” Obama said.

“They order me to spend,” he said. “They tell me: ‘You need to fund our Defense Department at such-and-such a level. You need to send Social Security checks. You need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans.’ They lay all this out for me, and–because they have the spending power–and so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.”

The current debt ceiling is $16.394 trillion, a number that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner agreed to in August 2011, when they increased the previous limit by $2.4 trillion. The Constitution gives Congress the power to borrow money. So, the president cannot increase the debt of the United States unless Congress enacts legislation authorizing him to do so.