1 of 3 | House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside the Oval Office on Tuesday following debt ceiling negotiations with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C. Jeffries is urging Democrats to sign a discharge petition that would force a vote on the debt ceiling if current negotiations fail. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 17 (UPI) -- House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is urging Democrats to endorse a contingency plan that would force a vote to raise the debt ceiling if current negotiations fail.
In a letter to caucus members Wednesday, one day after congressional leaders held their second debt ceiling meeting, Jeffries called on Democrats to sign a discharge petition that would pressure Republican leaders into advancing legislation quickly.
"I am hopeful that a real pathway exists to find an acceptable, bipartisan resolution that prevents a default," Jeffries wrote. "However, given the impending June 1 deadline and urgency of the moment, it is important that all legislative options be pursued in the event that no agreement is reached."
"It is imperative that members make every effort to sign the discharge petition today, which will be available at the Clerk's desk on the House floor beginning at 10 a.m.," Jeffries added.
After Tuesday's meeting, President Joe Biden expressed optimism about the possibility of a debt ceiling deal.
"Everyone came to the meeting in good faith," the president said Wednesday. "Every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills."
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also expressed optimism after the second round of negotiations with Biden, Jeffries, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McCarthy told reporters Tuesday there could be "a deal by the end of the week," while Schumer called the meeting "good and productive."
One of the main sticking points in the debt ceiling negotiations is the Republican push to add spending cuts.
We "made clear that addressing the debt ceiling must be accomplished without gamesmanship, brinksmanship and the extreme imposition of painful spending cuts that hurt everyday Americans," Jeffries wrote, as he blamed former President Donald Trump for the possibility of default.
"In the next few weeks, at the reckless urging of former President Trump, we confront the possibility that right-wing extremists will intentionally plunge our country into a default crisis," he wrote.
So far, a number of Democrats have endorsed Jeffries' contingency plan, including Reps. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio; Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla.; and Mary Peltola, D-Alaska.
"I believe a discharge petition to bring a clean debt ceiling solution to the floor can provide a valuable back-up option," Peltola said in a statement.
If all 213 House Democrats sign the petition, Jeffries would still need five Republicans to also sign in order to achieve the 218 signatures required to bypass McCarthy and force a vote on a clean debt ceiling increase.
"The goal is to get 213 as quickly as possible, and then put pressure on them," Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said. "But then also the hope that, maybe, if there's a breakthrough that that won't be necessary."