Mar 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House considers dueling discharge petitions to force foreign aid vote

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (left) wearing a dark blue suit, medium blue shirt and navy tie, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (right) wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and purple tie.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). Photos: Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg, Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

House members were presented with two competing options on Tuesday in cross-party efforts to force a vote on sending aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Why it matters: The fracturing of these efforts could make it more difficult to bypass House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) refusal to put any bill with Ukraine funding up for a vote.

The intrigue: Republicans likely won't sign on to House Democratic leadership's discharge petition, and some Democrats say Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick's (R-Pa.) petition is a non-starter.

Driving the news: House Democrats' discharge petition for the Senate's bipartisan, $95 billion foreign aid bill went live on Tuesday.

  • So did the petition led by Fitzpatrick, the co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, who wants a vote on his bipartisan House bill.
  • The Senate bill includes humanitarian aid to Gaza and economic assistance to Ukraine, while Fitzpatrick's bill is purely military aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan along with border policy restrictions.

By the numbers: A discharge petition needs 218 signatures to bypass House Republican leadership.

  • Democrats' discharge petition had obtained 169 signatures, all from Democrats, as of Tuesday evening, according to the House clerk's website.
  • Fitzpatrick's petition had 12 signatures — six from Republicans and six from Democrats.
  • All but one of the Democrats — Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) — who signed on to Fitzpatrick's discharge petition have also signed on to the one from Democratic leadership.

Reality check: Both petitions are likely to struggle to get the necessary signatures to force a vote.

  • Some progressives have said they won't even sign Democrats' discharge petition due to the inclusion of unconditional military aid to Israel.
  • Other Democrats have said they will go for the Senate bill, but not Fitzpatrick's. "For us, it's a non-starter. There's stuff in the bill, quite frankly, we can't accept," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told Axios.
  • And Republicans have long been hesitant to support any Democratic effort to bypass their leadership — a position that doesn't appear to be weakening.

Yes, but: Fitzpatrick's decision to even file a discharge petition represents a new phase of Republican frustrations' with their rocky congressional majority.

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