House Democrats Move to Force a Debt-Limit Increase as Default Date Looms

The only clue to the bet was the bill’s vague jumbled title: “Breaking the Gridlock Law.”

But the 45-page bill, introduced in January by lesser-known Democrat California Rep. It’s part of a secret, previously unreported strategy that Democrats have been plotting for months. To avoid a catastrophic federal default if debt ceiling negotiations remain stalled.

Amid forecasts of a possible default on June 1, Democrats on Tuesday began taking steps to deploy a secret weapon they had in reserve. They began the process of trying to push the debt ceiling bill onto the floor through so-called immunity petitions that could bypass Republican leaders who refused to raise the debt ceiling unless President Biden agrees to cut spending and change policies. Did.

“Democrats in the House are working to put all options at their disposal to avoid default,” said Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Minority Leader of the House of Representatives in New York. The lawmaker wrote in a letter sent to colleagues on Tuesday. “Debt ceiling submissions brought to the immunity calendar hold an important option. Now is the time for MAGA Republicans to act bipartisanly and pay America’s bills without extreme conditions.”

The emergency rule, introduced by Democrats on Tuesday, kicks off the clock on the process that will allow such petitions to begin collecting signatures on May 16, during a pro forma session held during a recess in the House of Representatives. You can force action. On invoices if majority of members sign on. The unrestricted rule would provide a vehicle for DeSaulnier’s bill to get onto the floor and amend it with a Democratic proposal (not yet drafted) to solve the debt limit crisis.

This strategy is not a silver bullet, and Democrats admit it is unfeasible. To gather enough signatures to bring the bill to the floor, if all Democrats signed it, at least five Republicans would have to be willing to cross party lines, and Democrats would approve. They have yet to settle on the debt ceiling proposal itself, and for this strategy to succeed, the Democrats will have to negotiate with a handful of mainstream Republicans to ensure that they accept it. You will have to decide what steps you can take.

Still, Democrats argue the prospects for success in the effort could force House Republicans into a more acceptable deal. The announcement that sex was just a few weeks away prompted Democratic leaders to take action.

House Democratic leaders have for months downplayed the possibility of launching a discharge petition as a way out of the stalemate. He is hesitant to change his party’s stance that it should agree to raise the debt ceiling without paying.

But behind the scenes, they were simultaneously taking steps to make the vehicle available if needed.

The discharge petition process can be lengthy and complicated, so the Democrats who devised the strategy started early and crafted their legislative instruments carefully. Insiders are calling the bill the “Swiss Army Knife” bill. The bill was intended to be referred to all House committees to ensure as many opportunities as possible to get it on the floor.

Created a task force to help grandparents raise their grandchildren, developed a federal strategy to reduce earthquake risk, renamed laws governing stock trading by congressmen, financed small businesses Pentagon Grants Program to expand , protect veterans from the IRS, and protect new nonprofits from terrorist attacks and more. In particular, the law was so broad and eclectic that it was referred to 20 committees and sat idle for several months. That was the point.

DeSaulnier’s intention was to never pass elements of the bill, but he supports them all. It was to create what was known as the shell of the bill in the Capitol that would eventually become the basis for the immunity petition, a way out of the debt limit conflict.

“I wrote it to be ready,” said De Saulnier, a former Rules Committee member who worked with Democratic procedural experts to craft legislation that could provide a debt-limiting haven. “Whether it was abortion or the debt ceiling, I expected the Republican caucuses to have these issues.

Democrats say the beauty of Mr. de Saulnier’s bill, which Republicans ignored, is that it long passed the standard of being held in committee for at least 30 days. And they said the fact that it falls under the jurisdiction of so many committees has given them some options to move forward.

Mr. DeSaulnier was chosen to sponsor the bill because his obscure bill could have received little attention. In contrast, the legislation introduced by Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the Rules Committee, could have grabbed immediate attention and Republicans could have acted to block it. yeah.

In the past, discharge petitions have spurred action by urging House leaders to address the issue rather than lose control of the floor through guerrilla legislative efforts. However, the process is rarely successful, and only a handful of cases have passed into law, including the approval of a large bipartisan campaign finance bill in 2002. Floors from the majority.

Democrats say the current situation of looming default shows they are taking cautious precautions against Mr. Dessaulnier’s bill. In addition to breaking the deadlock, it said its aim is to “advance common sense policy priorities.”

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