Two freshman Republican lawmakers, both members of the “Biden 18” House districts, are making noises about how they want to work with Democrats to solve the impending government shutdown. In the Senate, some Republicans are pushing new legislation to stop government shutdowns in the future. What these two efforts have in common is that they do nothing to solve the immediate crisis Congress is in now, a crisis inflicted by Republicans intent on fighting each other, with the country as collateral damage.
Reps. Marc Molinaro and Mike Lawler, both from New York districts that voted for Joe Biden in 2020, are making big noises about their willingness to sign onto a discharge petition with Democrats to force a vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government. That’s a somewhat empty threat, one undercut by the fact that Molinaro worked with Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican, to craft the latest shutdown scheme.
Discharge petitions are a mechanism the minority can use to force floor consideration of legislation when the House speaker refuses to move a bill forward. They are very rarely successful. First, a bill has to be introduced, then it must sit in committee for 30 legislative days before a member of the House can file a discharge petition. Then a majority of the House—currently 217 members, due to two vacancies—must sign the petition. That means three Republicans in addition to Lawler and Molinaro must agree to sign it.
And even if Lawler got those signatures and the continuing resolution was sent to the floor, the vote would need to happen within nine legislative days. And House Republican leadership could delay it past nine days with procedural tricks.
That all takes weeks of legislative time. The government shuts down at the end of next week. Molinaro and Lawler aren’t looking for a solution; they’re looking to avoid being blamed for the shutdown.
While some House Republicans are trying to distract with the discharge petition, some Senate Republicans are hyping a bipartisan effort with legislation to end government shutdowns entirely. Various proposals are floating around, but the idea is to create a mechanism that automatically extends funding after Sept. 30 if funding bills haven’t been approved by then. Great news, except that it doesn’t solve Congress’ current crisis.
Like the discharge petition, this plan doesn’t address the root problem of this and every other recent shutdown: The Republican Party is composed of either assholes who don’t believe that government works—and have devoted their careers to making sure it can’t work—or people who let the first bunch get away with wrecking everything. If it isn’t government shutdowns, it’s debt-limit fights.
Gimmicks aren’t solutions. What needs to happen is for the majority of Republicans in Congress who aren’t extremist jerks to take over. That means really committing to work with Democrats honestly, and setting aside the partisan agenda when it comes to things like having a functioning government.
Sign if you agree: No more MAGA circus. Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker!
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