WASHINGTON Oct 4 Democratic leaders in the U.S.
House of Representatives on Friday announced that they are
working on a maneuver that, if successful, would force a vote on
legislation to fully reopen the federal government.
The ploy involves a rarely used "discharge petition" that
would dislodge an existing bill from a committee and send it to
the House floor if a simple majority of lawmakers in the chamber
sign the petition.
This legislative route generally faces difficult odds in the
House as some members of the majority party - in this case
Republicans - would have to defy their party elders by signing a
petition for a bill that leadership opposes.
"This is an attempt by us in a bipartisan way to open up the
government," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said at a
Some administration officials privately have expressed
concerns over the difficulty of bringing a bill to the floor
unless House Speaker John Boehner brings it up.
The move would be slow to play out, even if it were to be
successful. It would take a week or so to clear procedural
hurdles in the House, according to Democratic Representative
George Miller. A House vote, under this ploy, might not come
until at least Oct. 14, which is a federal holiday, Miller said.
Asked at a press conference how he would get the 218 votes
needed, the California lawmaker said: "We will round them up. We
expect to get them in a day."
Democrats said they have their eyes on a bill introduced in
March by a conservative Republican, Representative James
Lankford, which was aimed at providing automatic funding for
government agencies and programs based on prior-year levels in
the event Congress failed to pass its normal spending bills.
Since the start of the government shutdown on Tuesday, House
Republican leaders have blocked other maneuvers by Democrats to
pass a bill granting emergency funding to reopen the government
without add-ons to delay or kill the "Obamacare" healthcare
Many Democrats and some Republicans think that if a
straight-forward spending bill was put on the House floor, it