One of the biggest advantages of holding the majority in the House of Representatives is that the majority leaders control the agenda by deciding what bills come up for a vote. The exception to the rule is called a discharge petition. If 218 members of the House sign a discharge petition, the House must take a vote on the bill that is subject to the petition. The discharge petition allows a minority party a small window of opportunity to force a vote on a a bill if they can muster enough signers from the other side to join them. House Democrats yesterday filed a discharge petition for a vote on the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last July. The Democrats don’t have 218 members in Congress, so they need at least 19 Republicans to sign on. The likelihood of that happening is practically zero, but the tactic is more about keeping political pressure on the Republican party to address immigration reform. As pressure continues to grow from outside groups to do something on immigration reform, Democrats want to be in the position of saying, “We’ve done everything we can possibly do. Put the heat on the other guys.”
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