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  • Writer's pictureMichael McAuliff

Jeffries Offers Debt Limit Backstop With Discharge Petition

Democrats in the House are offering their Republican colleagues a fallback option if they fail to agree amongst themselves on a way to raise the nation's debt limit before a historic default -- and Democrats don't yield to pressure to negotiate over raising the limit.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Monday that a default could happen as soon as June 1 as the Treasury Department runs out of ways to juggle the bills. It's been taking extraordinary measures since January to shift available funds around after hitting the congressionally set borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy advanced a bill last week to raise the debt limit, but only if Democrats agree to steep budget cuts. No Democrats signed on, and they and the White House remain insistent that while they will negotiate on spending, they will not negotiate on the debt limit.

Tuesday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries announced in a letter to colleagues that he is moving ahead with what's known as a discharge petition, potentially offering a life raft to help preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury.

"House Democrats are working to make sure we have all options at our disposal to avoid a default," Jeffries wrote to members.

With a discharge petition, any measure can be advanced to a floor vote if 218 members of the House sign on. If that threshold is reached, there is a vote about a week and a half later, according to House rules.

The likelihood of five Republicans signing on to the Democratic effort is extremely low, considering all but four of them voted for McCarthy's debt bill, and those four wanted deeper cuts.

But if markets start tanking and moderate Republicans get spooked, it could be a way out.

Jeffries made no predictions of success, but noted a discharge petition offers an "option."

"The filing of a debt ceiling measure to be brought up on the discharge calendar preserves an important option," he wrote.

"It is now time for MAGA Republicans to act in a bipartisan manner to pay America’s bills without extreme conditions," he wrote. "We will be in direct contact next week upon our return to Washington in connection with the discharge effort."

For a discussion on why a discharge petition is unlikely to succeed in the House, read the below thread:


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