If the House fails to reach a deal to fund the federal government by Sept. 30, a bipartisan group of lawmakers could employ a seldom-used tool called a discharge petition to avert a shutdown.
Use of a discharge petition would circumvent House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and force a vote on legislation on the floor. It would also require the approval of 218 members, which is unlikely given the highly fractured Republican caucus in the House.
With no clear path forward and six days to go until a shutdown, The Washington Post reported that the procedural maneuver has been floated by lawmakers as they scramble to hammer out a deal before funding expires on Oct. 1.
A framework proposal released last week by the House Problem Solvers Caucus that would fund the federal government through Jan. 11, or a continuing resolution from the Senate are two options that could be advanced via a discharge petition.
“With divided control of Congress, solutions to issues as critical as funding the federal government demand a two-party solution, with compromises agreed to by both sides,” Problem Solvers Caucus Chair Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said. “I hope that our colleagues will consider our bipartisan framework, endorsed by the 32 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus, to prevent a government shutdown.”
Because the process is governed by time restrictions and a number of rules, discharge petitions have rarely been used successfully, as the process is designed to be difficult.
A discharge petition may be attempted on a bill that has been in a committee for 30 legislative days or in the Rules Committee for seven legislative days.
Once a discharge petition reaches 218 signatures, it must wait for seven legislative days before a member who signed it can notify the House of their intention to bring it to the floor. The speaker would then determine when to consider the petition within two legislative days of the member’s notice of intent.
According to the Congressional Research Service, a discharge petition has been used a handful of times in recent decades to force votes on campaign finance legislation and a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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