Updated Mar 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats’ foreign aid discharge petition goes live

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, wearing a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and medium blue tie, stands in the chamber surrounded by colleagues.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

House Democrats' discharge petition on legislation providing aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan opened for lawmakers' signatures on Tuesday morning.

Why it matters: It's an effort to bypass House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) as he refuses to put the Senate's bipartisan foreign aid bill on the House floor for a vote.

  • The discharge petition went live at 10am, according to two senior Democratic aides.

The details: The discharge petition can force a vote on the Senate bill if it receives 218 signatures – a majority of the total number of House seats.

  • "Right now, this is about process – about whether we should have a debate on providing assistance to Ukraine," Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who introduced the petition, told Axios.
  • House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told reporters that Democrats have "made every single opportunity to engage with the speaker on bringing the bill to the floor."
  • "The world is clamoring for humanitarian assistance ... so why not bring it forward and do it? We have to think about plan B," DeLauro said.

By the numbers: The petition had four signatures as of Tuesday morning, according to the House Clerk's website.

  • In addition to McGovern, Reps. Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) have signed on.

Yes, but: Democrats are likely to struggle to even get all 213 of their members to sign onto the petition given progressives' opposition to Israel aid.

  • "I'm not going to sign a discharge petition with Israel aid, that's my problem," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Axios.
  • Jayapal predicted a "significant" number of progressives won't sign.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), asked whether she will sign on, told Axios, "I don't believe so right now."

The other side: Republicans are putting their chips on a discharge petition planned by Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

  • Fitzpatrick and a bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers have introduced a trimmed down foreign aid bill that includes border security restrictions.
  • Fitzpatrick's discharge petition is ready to be opened for signatures but has not yet gone live.
  • "We'll sign [the discharge petition] on Fitzpatrick's and my bill," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios when asked about Democrats' petition.

Zoom in: Another House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Axios said he is "doubtful" Republicans will sign Democrats' petition even if Fitzpatrick's fails to materialize.

  • "I suspect Fitzpatrick holds for a little as there is an effort to get a deal with the Senate," the lawmaker added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment.

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