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House Dem Leader Jeffries floats end-run around McCarthy to avert government shutdown

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House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said on Friday that he would not rule out a bid to force a short-term spending patch onto the House floor – whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., allowed it or not. 

Jeffries led House Democratic leaders in a press conference just after a group of 21 GOP hardliners helped sink their own party’s short-term spending bill.

A short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is most likely the only viable option at this point to avoid a government shutdown. If lawmakers in the House and Senate fail to come to any spending agreement before the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, all nonessential federal functions will cease and thousands of federal employees are at risk of being furloughed. 

Jeffries said all options are on the table to avoid a shutdown, including a procedural move known as a discharge petition that would force a vote onto the House floor with a simple majority.

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House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries blasted Republicans led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy after they failed to pass a spending bill on Friday (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images | Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“All procedural options are on the table and that includes a discharge petition. And we’ll see where we land as early as this weekend,” Jeffries said when asked if he would consider it.

Some moderate Republicans, like Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., signaled they would be open to joining a discharge petition to get a bipartisan compromise to avoid a shutdown onto the House floor if all other options were exhausted.

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Reps. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., and Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y., did not rule it out when asked by Fox News Digital earlier this week. 

Jeffries, however, said he was skeptical of moderate Republicans following through. House Democrats would need a handful of GOP lawmakers to sign onto a discharge petition to actually net a majority. 

Mike Lawler

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., is one of the moderates who said he was open to working with Democrats (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“These so-called moderate members of the Republican Conference have been missing in action – all talk, no action,” Jeffries said.

Referencing a CR being led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in the upper chamber, Jeffries continued, “There is a vehicle that is in front of us right now. Come together with the Democratic members of the House to avoid a catastrophic government shutdown.”

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“There are a variety of different procedural vehicles that are available to us, including a discharge petition, one of which that is live. And then all we would need are six Republicans to partner with us,” Jeffries said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is leading a bipartisan CR in the upper chamber that includes Ukraine aid and disaster relief (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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“All we’ve seen from the very beginning of this Congress are so-called moderate members doing their best to project reasonableness, but every opportunity they’ve been given to partner in a bipartisan way, they run to the extremes. Hopefully that will change in the next day or so, up against a government shutdown that will hurt people in New York and all across the country.”

House Democrats attempted to use a discharge petition to raise the U.S. debt ceiling earlier this year, but no Republicans signed onto the effort.

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