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Rep. Mike Thompson backs new strategy to end government shutdown

  • U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson speaks to a crowd during a gun control rally at Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson and other House Democrats are pushing a “discharge petition” to force a vote on a “clean” spending bill. The rarely used procedural tool could bring the Senate’s government funding bill up for an up-or-down vote in the House if a majority of Congress members sign on.

The House GOP leadership has refused to bring the Senate spending bill to a vote unless it includes a number of concessions by Democrats. The standoff between the two parties has led to a partial shutdown of the federal government. It has also brought the country dangerously close to what some are calling a debt-ceiling catastrophe when the government reaches its borrowing limit on Oct. 17.

Some House Republicans have insisted that any spending bill include a delay or defunding of President Obama’s health care law, also known as Obamacare. The House GOP leadership, however, appears to have backed away from that demand, and is now asking for other budget-related concessions.

“We could end the government shutdown now if the Speaker would put the Senate’s compromise legislation — legislation that includes $72 billion in annualized cuts wanted by Republicans — on the House floor,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson signed onto the discharge petition Saturday. “It would pass with a bipartisan majority and the government would be open tomorrow,” he said.

“But, since the House leadership has refused to act on the Senate-passed bill, I joined my colleagues in signing an official petition to force the bill to the floor for a vote,” he added. “This manufactured, $12 million-an-hour Tea Party shutdown has gone on long enough. It’s wrecking our economy and costing us $300 million a day. Let’s just vote and end this nonsense.”

A number of House Republicans have publicly stated they would support a “clean” spending bill, but none have yet said they would sign onto a discharge petition.

Such a petition is a long-shot route — and largely symbolic — that requires a number of procedural hurdles that could take until Oct. 28 before a vote could happen. That’s more than a week after the government reaches its borrowing limit.

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