Key House moderate: Members eye rare tactic to go around leaders, force vote on raising debt limit

A discharge petition would be "an absolute last resort, but it's my position that we cannot default on our debt under any circumstances," said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, cochair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Updated: January 20, 2023 - 11:10pm

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A key moderate House Republican says that lawmakers are considering a discharge petition — a rare parliamentary procedure to circumvent legislative leaders to force a vote — as an "absolute last resort" to increase the nation's debt limit, which has now been reached.

The Treasury Department has announced it is taking "extraordinary measures" now that the U.S. has hit the $31.4 trillion debt limit.

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, cochair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said last week that both parties were discussing the option of using a discharge petition to address the debt limit.

"We're going to have to marry it with some kind of controls on deficits," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "So that's what we're going to have to figure out."

Using a discharge petition would be "an absolute last resort, but it's my position that we cannot default on our debt under any circumstances," Fitzpatrick said.

The purpose of a discharge petition is to force a vote on a bill even if a floor vote hasn't been formally scheduled by House leadership. However, a discharge petition is subject to a series of procedural rules, according to the Congressional Research Service. The bill has to remain at the committee level for 30 legislative days, and once the petition garners the support of at least 218 House members, seven legislative days have to pass before the floor vote can occur.

Just the News reached out to Fitzpatrick's office and the Problem Solvers Caucus to find out if the discharge petition has been drafted and circulated among House members. Neither had responded as of press time. 

The House comes back into session on Jan. 24. The Senate returns Feb. 4.

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