Hakeem Jeffries on NPR's Morning Edition talking about the debt ceiling.

House Democrats Move To Deploy Their Secret Weapon To Avoid A Default

Last updated on July 18th, 2023 at 02:04 pm

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House Democrats have been working for months on a secret long-shot strategy to go around Kevin McCarthy and raise the debt limit.

The New York Times reported:

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.

The problem with using a discharge petition to raise the debt limit is that it requires a majority to bring the petition to the House floor for a vote. At this time, there is no evidence that any House Republicans are willing to cross over and help Democrats force a House floor vote on a clean debt limit bill. 

However, Democrats are putting the pieces in place so that if Republicans start to abandon McCarthy, they will have a mechanism ready to go that will pass a clean debt limit bill.

Republicans will likely continue to talk a big game for the next few weeks, but as the pressure grows over the next few weeks, McCarthy’s caucus might not be able to hold together, and if they crack, Democrats will be waiting.

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