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Here’s the Number of GOP Votes Dems Need to Pass Their Debt Ceiling Plan

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen set the date for Armageddon: June 1st. That’s when the United States defaults on its financial obligations unless the debt ceiling is raised.

It is a touchy issue for Republicans who are hell-bent on curbing spending but, most of all, denying the Biden White House a win on the Hill. It doesn’t get any more political than this.

Joe Biden has invited congressional leaders to hash out a deal, but it’s unlikely any headway will be made with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the room.

House Republicans passed a bill to increase the debt ceiling, which Senate Democrats will likely block. We’re at an impasse, and House Democrats have been devising a plan in secret to bypass Republican leadership to force a clean debt ceiling increase. It’s been in the works for months, with its introduction being made by a little-known California Democrat in January (via NYT) [emphasis mine]:

The only clue to the gambit was in the title of the otherwise obscure hodgepodge of a bill: “The Breaking the Gridlock Act.”

But the 45-page legislation, introduced without fanfare in January by a little-known Democrat, Representative Mark DeSaulnier of California, is part of a confidential, previously unreported, strategy Democrats have been plotting for months to quietly smooth the way for action by Congress to avert a devastating federal default if debt ceiling talks remain deadlocked.

With the possibility of a default now projected as soon as June 1, Democrats on Tuesday began taking steps to deploy the secret weapon they have been holding in reserve. They started the process of trying to force a debt-limit increase bill to the floor through a so-called discharge petition that could bypass Republican leaders who have refused to raise the ceiling unless President Biden agrees to spending cuts and policy changes.

“House Democrats are working to make sure we have all options at our disposal to avoid a default,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, wrote in a letter he sent to colleagues on Tuesday. “The filing of a debt ceiling measure to be brought up on the discharge calendar preserves an important option. It is now time for MAGA Republicans to act in a bipartisan manner to pay America’s bills without extreme conditions.”

An emergency rule Democrats introduced on Tuesday, during a pro forma session held while the House is in recess, would start the clock on a process that would allow them to begin collecting signatures as soon as May 16 on such a petition, which can force action on a bill if a majority of members sign on. The open-ended rule would provide a vehicle to bring Mr. DeSaulnier’s bill to the floor and amend it with a Democratic proposal — which has yet to be written — to resolve the debt limit crisis.

The strategy is no silver bullet, and Democrats concede it is a long shot. Gathering enough signatures to force a bill to the floor would take at least five Republicans willing to cross party lines if all Democrats signed on, a threshold that Democrats concede will be difficult to reach. They have yet to settle on the debt ceiling proposal itself, and for the strategy to succeed, Democrats would likely need to negotiate with a handful of mainstream Republicans to settle on a measure they could accept.

Five is the magic number. In the Senate, it’s a different animal; five votes shy is a long shot. And while the Times described this petition initiative in similar terms, I can see five House Republicans joining this effort if things go belly up at the White House. This petition is reportedly the thing that Democrats will dangle in front of Republicans to force a compromise.

Though it’s not just about the debt ceiling, the Times noted a host of issues that are rolled into Rep. DeSauliner’s bill, including protecting veterans from the IRS, providing more small business loans, and greenlighting new grants for defense spending. House Democrats have dubbed the motion a “Swiss Army knife” bill since it provides the basis for a discharge petition on multiple fronts. As the publication noted, it provides the “shell” of a bill from which such a petition can be discharged and a pathway out of a debt ceiling fiasco should zero hour approach.

READ 13 COMMENTS
  • Jackie says:

    They are always at an impasse, always!! That’s why nothing ever gets done in Washington unless it’s the middle of the night or behind closed doors keeping secrets from the public until it’s too late!! Democrats love keeping us in the dark!

  • Richard Mundy says:

    The Republicans in Congress must hold fast and stop all Democrat bills on spending these Marxists are corrupt to the core, in fact, this Biden administration is corrupt the republican congress needs to start impeachment procedures against Biden immediately. I truly believe the American people in this country would back this movement in America 1000 percent it has to start asap otherwise we are lost for sure.

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