washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Can Dems End Shutdown with Discharge Petition?

There is a way to render House Speaker John Boehner’s obstruction of a clean vote on a budget continuing resolution irrelevant, and Democratic leaders have apparently decided that it’s time to use it. As Molly Jackman explains at Brookings:

The discharge process begins with a petition filed no sooner than 30 days after the bill was referred to committee. That petition would require 218 signatures- not an implausible goal to meet in the case of the current CR. If the number of signatories passes this threshold, the petition is placed on the Discharge Calendar, where it waits for at least 7 days. At that point, it becomes privileged business on the second and fourth Mondays of the month (except during the last 6 days of the session). Any member who signed the petition can be recognized to offer the discharge motion. When the motion is called up, debate is limited to 20 minutes, divided evenly between the proponents and opponents. If the motion is rejected, the bill is not eligible for discharge again during that session and is returned to committee. If adopted, any member who signed the discharge petition can motion to call up the bill for immediate consideration. At that point, the bill becomes the business of the House, and an affirmative vote of the majority leads to its adoption….

Jackman, however, is skeptical that it will work, since the procedure would require 18 Republican moderates to openly defy their leaders. “It would take some real gutsy Republicans – who have a lot to personally gain from ending the shutdown — to make this move,” adds Jackman.
Even if the discharge petition fails, however, the process will out the ‘moderate’ Republicans who claim to support a clean CR, but won’t vote for it, as political trolls who feign support for functional government. Of the 21 or so Republican House members who say they want a clean CR, some of them are in purplish districts. If they out themselves as phonies, that could help Dems pick up seats in 2014. Here’s a list of 21 Republicans HuffPo’s Jennifer Bendery identifies as saying they are read for a clean CR:

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.): “At this point, I believe it’s time for the House to vote for a clean, short-term funding bill to bring the Senate to the table and negotiate a responsible compromise.” [Press Release, 10/1/13] Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.): “Time for a clean [continuing resolution].” [Official Twitter, 10/1/13] Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.): “Enough is enough. Put a clean [continuing resolution] on the floor and let’s get on with the business we were sent to do.” [Burlington County Times, 10/1/13] Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.): A Fitzpatrick aide tells the Philadelphia Inquirer the congressman would support a clean funding bill if it came up for a vote. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/1/13] Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.): Barletta said he would “absolutely” vote for a clean bill in order to avert a shut down of the government. [Bethlehem Morning Call, 10/1/13] Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.): King thinks House Republicans would prefer to avoid a shutdown and said he will only vote for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government, according to the National Review Online. [NRO, 9/30/13] Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.): The California Republican told The Huffington Post he would ultimately support a clean continuing resolution. [Tweet by The Huffington Post’s Sabrina Siddiqui, 9/30/13] Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.): “I’m prepared to vote for a clean [continuing resolution].” [The Huffington Post, 9/29/13] Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.): A Wolf aide told The Hill that he agrees with fellow Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R) that it’s time for a clean continuing resolution. [The Hill, 10/1/13] Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.): A Grimm aide told The Huffington Post that the congressman supports a clean continuing resolution. [10/1/13].
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.): A local news anchor in Minnesota tweeted that Paulsen told him he would vote for a clean resolution if given the chance. [Blake McCoy Tweet, 10/1/13] Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.): A constituent of Wittman’s sent The Huffington Post an email she got from the congressman indicating he would vote for a clean funding bill but hasn’t had “an opportunity to do so at this point.” [10/1/13] Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.): LoBiondo told The Press of Atlantic City he’ll support “whatever gets a successful conclusion” to the shutdown and a clean funding bill “is one of those options.” [The Press of Atlantic City, 10/1/13] Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.): Forbes told The Virginian-Pilot that he supports the six-week clean funding bill that passed in the Senate. [The Virginian-Pilot, 10/2/13] Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.): The congressman issued a statement saying he would “vote in favor of a so-called clean budget bill.” [Office of Rep. Jim Gerlach, 10/2/13].
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.): Lance’s chief of staff confirmed to The Huffington Post that he told a constituent on Wednesday that Lance has voted for clean government funding bills in the past “and would not oppose doing so again should one be brought to the floor.” [10/2/13] Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho): Simpson told a Roll Call reporter Tuesday night, “I’d vote for a clean CR because I don’t think this is a strategy that works.” [Daniel Newhauser Tweet, 10/1/13] Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.): Young told Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary that he’s ready to vote for a clean funding bill. “The politics should be over,” he said. “It’s time to legislate.” [Alex Leary Tweet, 10/2/13] Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.): The congressman told Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo that he would vote for a clean funding bill, provided it has the same funding levels contained in the Senate-passed bill. [The Miami Herald, 10/2/13] Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.): “I would take a clean (continuing resolution).” [Observer-Dispatch, 10/2/13] Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.): A Davis constituent tells The Huffington Post that a Davis aide told him Wednesday, “Congressman Davis is prepared to vote ‘yes’ on a clean CR.” Asked for comment, Davis spokesman Andrew Flach told HuffPost that Davis isn’t “going to speculate” on what bills may come up in the House and “will continue to vote for proposals brought to the floor that will fund the federal government.” [10/2/2013] Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.): Asked on Twitter if he would support a clean funding bill if it came up for a vote, Griffin tweeted, “sure. Ive already said i would support.” [Official Twitter, 10/2/13].

In his (earlier) list of 17 Republican House members who profess support for a clean CR, TNR’s Nate Cohn observes, “most are from relatively competitive territory: Romney only won five of the 17 districts by more than 3 points.” However, adds Cohn:

…Perhaps as a result of their moderation, relatively few of these representatives appear vulnerable heading into 2014. Each of these candidates won by at least 7 points last November. The Cook Political Report only characterizes one seat as “lean Republican;” the rest are either “likely” or “safe” Republican.

It’s possible that skepticism about the discharge petition underestimates mounting public anger about the shutdown, which is topic “A” at social media forums, water coolers and dinner tables and across the country. A new poll by Public Policy Polling, for example, indicates that discontent with Republicans has risen to the point where 17 “battleground districts” held by Republicans are now leaning Democratic. According to the HuffPo report, “GOP In Grave Danger Of Losing House In 2014, PPP Polls Show“:

For Democrats to win a House majority, 17 seats would need to switch to their party’s favor. Results show that would be within reach, as Republican incumbents are behind in 17 of the districts analyzed: CA-31, CO-06, FL-02, FL-10, FL-13, IA-03, IA-04, IL-13, KY-06, MI-01, MI-07, MI-11, NY-19, OH-14, PA-07, PA-08, WI-07. In four districts, the incumbent Republican fell behind after respondents were told their representative supported the government shutdown: CA-10, NY-11, NY-23, VA-02. Three districts saw GOP incumbents maintain their hold over their Democratic challengers, even after hearing their elected officials’ views on the shutdown, including CA-21, NV-03 and OH-06.

Clearly, if the discharge petition passes, it will be by a tight margin. As a safety precaution, Democratic leaders should make it known that any Democratic House member who fails to support the clean CR will experience full party discipline, since any defectors on this are DINOs when it really counts. Meanwhile, OFA, MoveOn and all progressive groups should put a full-court press on the 21 aforementioned House Republicans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.