WASHINGTON – House Democrats plan to announce Friday that they will try to force a vote to fully fund the government — and end the shutdown – with a procedural motion known as a discharge petition.
Democrats were expected to announce the news at a Friday afternoon press conference. The resolution would fund the government through Nov. 15, at the same levels as the Senate-passed continuing resolution. And, like the Senate bill, there would be no strings attached related to delaying or defunding Obamacare.
The effort, led by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), has little chance of succeeding. The process can be time-consuming and it requires members of the majority party — in this case, Republicans — to buck their party leaders and sign a petition with the minority to force a bill to the floor. But it’s one of the few things Democrats can do as the minority to try to force action.
If all 200 Democrats sign the petition, 18 Republicans would have to join them in order to hit 218, the magic number needed to move forward. It works to Democrats’ favor that at least 21 Republicans support a “clean” funding bill. But declaring support for such a bill and signing onto a petition to force it to the House floor are two entirely different things.
Under the Democrats’ plan, the soonest they could force a vote on a “clean” government funding bill is Oct. 14.
Here’s the timeline they’re looking at: They’ll introduce their “Open the Government” resolution on Friday and refer it to the House Rules Committee, at which point they have to wait for seven days of inaction by the committee. That would take until Oct. 11.
Presuming the committee doesn’t take up the resolution, Democrats will file their discharge petition and start collecting signatures. Once they hit 218, assuming they do, they can make a motion on the House floor to “discharge” their resolution from the committee for immediate House consideration. The earliest that could happen is Oct. 14.
Assuming the resolution is adopted, the House would then have to take an up-or-down vote on the clean funding bill, the same one that passed the Senate and that has White House support. Once it passes the House, it would sail to passage in the Senate and be signed into law, immediately ending the shutdown.