Dems have hit on a way to use a “discharge petition,” which forces a House vote if a majority of Representatives signs it, to try to force the issue. Previously, it was thought this could not work, because a discharge petition takes 30 legislative days to ripen, so if this were tried with the clean CR that passed the Senate, this couldn’t bear fruit until some time in November.The idea here is to create a vehicle with which a united Democratic Party could join with Republicans who say they support a clean funding bill to force a vote on reopening government, in the process overruling House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to allow a vote on the Senate's legislation to end the government shutdown.
But now House Democrats say they have found a previously filed bill to use as a discharge petition — one that would fund the government at sequester levels.
According to Sargent, House Democrats believe they could force a vote as soon as Oct. 14—if enough Republicans are willing to cross the aisle and join Democrats in signing the petition.
In theory, there should be enough Republicans willing to sign the discharge petition for this tactic to succeed. There are 200 Democrats, and if 18 of the 22 Republicans who claim they support a clean funding bill sign the petition, we'd have a vote and the shutdown crisis would be over.
The problem is that at least so far, none of these Republicans have been willing to put their money where their mouths are. Earlier this week, every single one of them voted against a procedural motion that would have allowed a vote on a a clean funding bill to move forward, putting them in the awkward position of saying they would vote yes on something they voted against allowing to come up for a vote.
These members will face tremendous pressure from Republican leadership to not sign a discharge petition, because doing so would effectively neuter Boehner. But unlike procedural votes to table appeals of rulings of the chair (the vote earlier this week), whether or not a member signs the discharge petition is extremely easy to explain.
At a bare minimum, pushing the discharge petition will force these Republicans to put up or shut up. Hopefully, they will put up, because if they do, that would end the Republican shutdown. But even if they don't, at least it will be a clarifying moment that forces these so-called "moderates" to admit that at the end of the day, they are nothing but Ted Cruz with a smile.
12:03 PM PT: More details from Rep. George Miller on how this would work:
We will make in order a discharge petition to discharge the language of the Lankford bill, but we will have a complete substitute for that language, which will be a clean continuing resolution to open up the government.MIller was speakign at a press conference by Democratic leadership.