Congressional Democrats believe they’ve found a way to push through a debt-ceiling hike vote in the GOP-controlled House without support from most Republicans.
As previously reported, Republicans are refusing to hike the debt ceiling unless President Joe Biden agrees to spending cuts. But the president and his allies in Congress have made it clear they won’t tolerate even a $1 cut to spending.
Ted Cruz holds nothing backhttps://t.co/f5w7V8ytbA
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) May 2, 2023
This has led to an impasse, which in turn has prompted the Treasury Department to warn of dire consequences if the debt limit isn’t spiked by June.
But instead of seeking to resolve this crisis through fair negotiation, it appears the Democrats are now trying to force their way through. The idea was revealed in a “dear colleague” letter filed on Tuesday by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
“At the beginning of the 118th Congress, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, working with leadership, introduced legislation that could be used as a vehicle to avert the Republican manufactured default crisis,” Jeffries wrote.
“Given yesterday’s announcement by the Treasury Department, Ranking Member Jim McGovern has just filed a special rule that would allow for Floor consideration of a bipartisan measure to avoid a dangerous default,” he added.
McGovern is specifically the ranking member of the House Rules Committee.
According to CBS News, on Tuesday he — McGovern — introduced a “special rule” that would permit Democrats to “attach a clean debt ceiling increase to an unrelated bill introduced by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, of California, in January.”
“The bill was introduced when Republicans took control of the House and referred to several committees for consideration with the intention of using it as a vehicle for Democrats to try to force a floor vote on anything they believed was necessary,” CBS News notes.
One Democrat aide reportedly described it as a “break the glass in case of emergency” option.
“By introducing the rule Tuesday, Democrats will be able to designate it as what’s known as a discharge petition and begin collecting signatures as early as May 16. A discharge petition is a mechanism that forces a floor vote on any measure that gets 218 signatures, the majority of the House. Signatures must be added in person while the House is in session,” CBS News notes.
The problem is that to be successful with this strategy, Democrats would need to secure the votes of all 213 House Democrats AND at least five Republicans.
3) A successful discharge petition allows a coalition of lawmakers to go above the head of the House leadership and put a bill on the floor – provided they have 218 signatures. That requires a combination of all 213 Democrats and five Republicans.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 2, 2023
Yet not all Democrats appear to be on board with raising the debt ceiling without instituting cuts. Several Democrats, in fact, have been urging President Joe Biden to sit down and negotiate with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“Nearly a dozen House Democrats have told Axios, Politico and the Washington Post, or written publicly, that they believe Biden and McCarthy should be in discussions on the debt ceiling,” according to Axios. “Most recently, Trump-district Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) and Marie Pérez (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter: ‘It is time to end the partisan standoff and brinkmanship before it rattles markets, damages our economy, and hurts the American people.'”
So it’s not clear any of these Democrats would agree to the discharge petition. And then there are the five Republicans.
Democrat aides were spotted as recently as last Friday “downplaying the possibility that they would use a discharge petition after seeing nearly all Republicans coalesce around the GOP plan to cut spending in exchange for a debt ceiling increase – a sign that it would be very difficult to get the five GOP votes at the moment,” according to CBS News.
CBS further notes that discharge petitions are very rarely successful since they require at least some members of the majority party to turn against their own party: “In recent years, the procedural move has been used just twice to bring bills to the House floor: once in 2002 to pass a bipartisan campaign finance reform bill, and once in 2015 to reauthorize the Import-Export bank.”
5) However, discharge petitions are tough and rarely successful. Only two discharge petitions have been successful in the House in the past two decades. One on the House version of the “McCain-Feingold” campaign finance bill and a measure to renew the Export-Import Bank.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 2, 2023
Realistically, the discharge petition idea is going nowhere.
The good news is that the debt crisis might still be resolved the traditional way, as the president has reportedly — to his credit — invited congressional members to a May 9th meeting to work things out, better late than never.
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