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So, What Exactly is a Discharge Petition?

A discharge petition is a petition maintained by the Clerk of the House of Representatives which, when signed by a majority of House members, can discharge a committee from the further consideration of the object of the petition. (English: It’s a way to force the bill out of committee and onto the House floor so that it can be debated and voted on.) It requires 218 signatures – no more, no less, regardless of resignations or deaths, because the rule requires enough member signatures to constitute a true majority of the House.  

As you may know, House Democrats filed a discharge petition on H.R. 15, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, yesterday. It is being referred to as the Walz petition because it was filed by Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.).

H.R. 15 is the same text of the bill that passed the U.S. Senate in July but was not brought to the floor in the House.  It would end the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans and continue the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, including improved tax credits for low- and moderate-income families. H.R. 15 represents a key step toward restoring fairness to the tax code and balance to fiscal policy, helping to protect services critical to women and their families.  It has the support of the National Women’s Law Center.

The petition requesting discharge of H.R. 15 “ripens” on Dec. 24th, so that’s the deadline for signatures. House Democrats are urging their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to sign on as soon as possible. More than 150 signed yesterday.  If enough members do so by Dec. 24th, the measure can be debated on the floor and receive a vote.