House Democrats are maneuvering to force a debt ceiling vote amid default fears

House Democrats began a process Tuesday that would allow them to bypass the chamber’s Republican leaders in passing legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling — if they can get a few GOP members to join the effort.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (DNY) said in a letter to colleagues that the maneuver “preserves an important option” as a deadlock continues between the White House and House Republicans ahead of the June 1 repayment of the U.S. debt. .

Democrats have crafted a “special rule” that would allow bipartisan action to be considered on the House floor using a so-called “discharge petition” — a complicated, time-consuming and rarely successful process. Such a petition would require 218 votes to pass, or to release a bill from committee, triggering the process for a vote in the full House.

Several top Democratic lawmakers and aides have said privately that the discharge petition is not their preferred method of averting a default, with many describing it as an absolute last resort, if used by the White House and congressional leaders hours before default. Cannot contract.

The first date for Democrats to get signatures on the discharge petition is May 16. To win, Democrats would need to get at least five Republicans to lead their party, and all Democrats in the chamber would back the initiative.

President Biden invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other congressional leaders to the White House on May 9 to discuss the debt ceiling. (Video: Reuters)

While many Democrats familiar with the negotiations expect a majority of the convention to sign the discharge petition within two weeks, not all 212 Democrats are on board, according to three senior Democratic aides. That complicates the math of how many Republicans the minority party needs to win, especially in the absence of an exit bill.

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“We will be in direct contact next week upon our return to Washington regarding the withdrawal effort,” Jeffries wrote to lawmakers in recess this week.

Last week, the House narrowly passed a bill backed by GOP leadership that would have imposed conditions such as raising the debt ceiling to implement deep spending cuts and rolling back several of President Biden’s legislative priorities. Four Republicans voted against the bill. They are all far-right conservatives who will not sign on to a Democratic-led initiative.

Biden seeks debt ceiling talks as US faces June 1 default

Biden and congressional Democratic leaders are pushing for a “clean” bill that would raise the cap without conditions, as Congress did three times during President Donald Trump’s previous Republican administration.

But Democratic lawmakers and aides privately admit there is no support for an outright increase, raising expectations that Democrats will have to negotiate spending cuts with Republicans to create a deal that averts default on the U.S. debt.

House Democratic leaders, top Democrats on the committees and key members have begun discussing the possibility of an ouster as a fail-safe option in the days that have seen House Republicans struggle to elect Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). As a speaker in January. McCarthy was elected on the 15th ballot after days of bitter GOP infighting.

The inability to quickly reach a consensus on their leader could mean an equally treacherous and unpredictable fight for Democrats ahead of the debt ceiling debate, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) decided to introduce the “Breaking the gridlock law“The end of January will be used under House rules to give all House committees time to “ripe” the discharge motion.

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The text of the bill could be replaced at any time by legislation that could raise the debt ceiling.

“Congress must urgently enact legislation to raise the borrowing limit, plunge our country into recession, raise unemployment and crash the stock market,” Jeffries wrote in his letter Tuesday. “Dangerous default is not an option. Making sure America pays its bills — not the extreme bailout Republicans are demanding — is the only responsible course of action.

If Democrats are to win the House, the party will also need help from Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate, where 60 votes are needed to advance most legislation under filibuster rules.

House The GOP legislation seeks to limit discretionary spending through fiscal year 2022 and allows for 1 percent growth per year going forward. Republican leaders have said the cuts won’t be applied across the board — but it will be left to the appropriations process in the coming years to determine exactly what gets cut.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DNY.) suggested McCarthy could not get the support of 218 Republicans to pass the Senate-approved bill, which would significantly reverse the measure passed by the House last week. “Boxed in” by the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Schumer told reporters that a short-term increase would be pointless. “I believe we should go for the full two-year extension,” he said.

Republican lawmakers involved in the ongoing negotiations have privately acknowledged that many of the cuts in their bill are not realistically achievable, making it difficult to say how many Republicans will vote for the final debt ceiling bill.

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If their legislation is to become law, Republicans will ultimately need to find more than $3.5 trillion in cuts over the coming decade. The Biden administration has estimated that cuts of more than 20 percent would be required from most agencies.

Schumer has labeled the House bill “dead on arrival,” and Biden has threatened to veto it if it somehow passes the Senate.

Biden has invited congressional leaders to the White House next week to discuss the situation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would attend, along with McCarthy, Schumer and Jeffries.

McConnell insisted that Biden and McCarthy “need to reach an agreement to overcome this impasse.” The Republican president, who has played a big role in high-stakes debt negotiations in the past, made it clear he won’t this time. “There is no solution in the Senate,” McConnell said.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre urged Republicans to drop their demands on Tuesday.

“Congress has a constitutional duty to act without holding America’s entire faith and credit hostage until we allow them to make cuts to programs that hard-working Americans rely on. Threatening to default and crash the economy unless the president agrees to Speaker McCarthy’s entire agenda is not unreasonable. It is dangerous,” Jean-Jacques said. Pierre told reporters at a daily briefing.

At next week’s meeting, he said, Biden will make it clear that he wants “a separate process” to talk about spending priorities.

“He’s not going to negotiate the debt ceiling,” Jean-Pierre said.

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