House Democrats Quietly Deploy Plan to Force Vote on Debt Limit Increase

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
May 3, 2023Politicsshare
House Democrats Quietly Deploy Plan to Force Vote on Debt Limit Increase
U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on April 28, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Amid the continued gridlock on Capitol Hill over the debt limit ceiling, House Democrats have unveiled a clandestine scheme to force a vote on the matter.

The plans, quietly set in motion in January, were revealed by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in a May 2 letter to his Democrat colleagues.

“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.

The referenced “vehicle” is the “Breaking the Gridlock Act,” a hodge-podge of a bill that would create a task force to support grandparents raising grandchildren, modify the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction program, rename a law governing stock trading by members of Congress, and more.

The bill was deliberately crafted to address a broad range of topics so that it would be referred to as many committees as possible to provide multiple paths forward—a mission that was accomplished on March 7, when it was referred to 20 committees. Since then, the bill has remained untouched.

The Democrats’ plan involves the use of a discharge petition—a little-used procedural measure to bring a bill out of committee for the consideration of the full House if it has remained idle for more than 30 days. To file the petition, Democrats would need the support of a majority of the House, or 218 votes.

In his Tuesday letter, Jeffries also noted that Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, had filed a “special rule” allowing Democrats to attach a clean debt ceiling increase to DeSaulnier’s bill.

“The filing of a debt ceiling measure to be brought up on the discharge calendar preserves an important option. It is now time for MAGA Republicans to act in a bipartisan manner to pay America’s bills without extreme conditions.”

Likely to Fail

Given that the Democrats would need to garner the support of at least five Republicans for their plan to succeed, the measure is unlikely to accomplish anything.

Weighing in on the matter Tuesday via Twitter, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote: “Sorry @RepJeffries. There won’t be 5 Republicans, who sit in tight districts, willing to sign a discharge petition to bring Joe Biden’s clean debt ceiling bill to the floor. That would be a career ending move unless they want to switch parties.”

Further, Republicans have already passed their own solution to the debt crisis, voting on April 26 to balance a debt ceiling increase with future spending cuts down the road.

But for the Democrats’ purposes, their efforts may not be necessary.

On May 1, after weeks of refusing to negotiate with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), President Joe Biden invited McCarthy and other congressional leaders to discuss raising the debt ceiling at a May 9 meeting.

Biden’s invitation came on the heels of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s Monday warning that the United States could default on its debt as soon as June 1.

Noting that warning in his Tuesday letter, Jeffries stressed that default was “not an option.”

“Making sure that America pays its bills—and not the extreme ransom note demanded by Republicans—is the only responsible course of action.”

From The Epoch Times

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