House members try to force immigration debate: What happens if discharge petition secures 218 signatures

House members try to force immigration debate: What happens if discharge petition secures 218 signatures

Republican leaders scramble to contain immigration rebellion A coalition of some Republicans and nearly all Democrats is attempting to go around House GOP leaders and force a debate later this month on a series of immigration bills against the wishes of GOP leaders. How do they do it? The mechanism is called a “discharge petition.” A discharge petition is a rarely-successful gambit which requires the signatures of 218 House members, regardless of the size of current House. The House’s total membership is fixed by statute at 435. So, 218 is more than half of the House. 218 is usually the number needed to pass bills if all members vote. However, the House is now at 428 members due to resignations and a death. But the number of signatures for a discharge petition is locked at 218, regardless of the House’s size. The House may only consider discharge petitions on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. If the House is out on one of the eligible days, supporters of the discharge petition are out of luck. The House used to operate on a strict “calendar” system, based days of the week. Each day held a particular “pedigree.” For instance, the House may consider certain types of bills on a “Wednesday.” Other categories of bills are only up “Monday through Wednesday.” Thus, a discharge petition was assigned the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Supporters of a discharge petition on a given issue must secure the signatures of […]

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