US Capitol (PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin McCoy, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Congress Considers Extreme Option to Overcome Debt Ceiling Limit

As Democratic leaders refuse to talk, members of both parties in the House are reportedly considering invoking a seldom used “discharge petition” to force a vote on increasing the debt ceiling.

The procedure for forcing a bill out of committee for a House floor vote is being debated by Democrats and moderate Republicans as the United States approaches its borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion.

The Treasury Department has since been forced to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid a short-term default.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the assistant Democratic leader in the House, said members of his party should cooperate with Republicans if they decide to file a discharge petition.

A discharge petition requires that a measure be assigned to a committee for 30 legislative days, have 218 signatures, be on the calendar for seven parliamentary days, and then the speaker has two days to schedule a vote upon notice.

If the bill is passed, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Over the years, the method has been utilized infrequently. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Emanuel Celler (D-NY) launched a discharge petition to move the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was stalled in the Rules Committee.

Although the discharge petition did not receive enough signatures, the law was eventually put up for review and enacted.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has committed to explore budget cutbacks as part of his efforts to win conservative holdouts who have stymied his bid for the gavel.

McCarthy criticized the idea of raising the debt ceiling without constraints this week.

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