House Dems maneuver to force debt ceiling vote as default looms

House Democrats are quietly working on a plan to force an emergency vote to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the US government defaulting.

The New York Times first revealed the secret plan of the party. It relies on an inefficient and rarely successful legal maneuver known as a discharge petition. A few Republicans will be required to support this effort, which is to bypass House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who delays the release of the GOP counterproposal for the debt crisis. This could push the country even closer to default.

The Democratic strategy demands:

The petition can be based on a piece of legislation which has been in a committee for 30 days or more during the House’s session.

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218 signatures – that’s every single Democrat in the House as well as 5 Republicans who are willing to break with the party leadership and force a vote to be held on the bill.

Even if Speaker McCarthy does not bring it to the floor, the petition will still be put to a vote. It can be amended so that it includes the debt limit vote.

Unbeknownst by most, the wheels of this plan have been in motion since January 30 when Rep. Mark DeSaulnier from California introduced a bill titled the “Breaking the Gridlock Act”, which was never intended to pass.

The bill, which was too broad, contained proposals to protect veterans from the IRS and create a taskforce that supports grandparents raising their grandchildren. It also included a change in the name of a law governing Congressional stock trading.

If Democrats are able to secure enough signatures for the discharge petition, the “Breaking the Gridlock Act”, could be the catalyst that forces the House to vote and deal with the debt ceiling crisis.

Mark DeSaulnier, a congressman from New York City, said in an email to Insider that “you have to be ready for anything” in the current Congress. “As a member of the Rules Committee I worked with procedural rule experts to create a vehicle which could be used by the country for a number of urgent issues – such as an assault weapons ban, abortion rights or, in this case, the debt limit. It is important to be strategically minded, especially when Congress has a razor thin majority and it takes the party in charge 15 votes and 5 days to elect their Speaker.

He said: “Given Treasury Sec. Yellen’s yesterday announcement that Congress might only have until the 1st of June to raise its debt limit in order to avoid a disastrous default, and Republicans’ unwillingness to support a debt limit increase without any strings attached, Democrats keep all their options open.”

Insider’s comment request was not immediately responded to by Rep. McCarthy or his representatives.