Democrats are resorting to an unusual method to push Republicans in the House to move on making important decisions regarding immigration reform – using a discharge petition. When a party wants a specific bill to bypass committees that can slow its passage down, they can use a discharge petition. This document has the ability to move a bill or piece of legislation onto the floor for a vote without securing a committee’s approval. The restrictions on this document are that it can only be enacted by an absolute majority, which means 218 of the members of the House of Representatives must sign it to prevent the committee from holding onto the bill, and the petition can only be signed if the bill has been in sitting in a committee’s hands for more than 30 days.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that immigration reform will most likely not be resolved in the near future, which has prompted Democrats in the House to consider a discharge petition to force a vote on reform. Democrats have been trying to convince pro-immigration groups that identify with the GOP to plead with their Congress members to move forward on a vote to support the millions of immigrants currently living and working in the U.S.
The possibility of getting enough Republican signatures on the petition is remote. Republicans hold a majority in the House, and immigration reform is mainly a Democratic issue. However, even if the Democrats are unable to get enough Republican signatures for the discharge petition, presenting the petition makes a bold statement to House leaders, and that in and of itself may be able to force the GOP to put the immigration bill to the floor for a vote.