House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Thursday moderate GOP lawmakers are “missing in action” on combating a government shutdown after some Republicans who said they would join an effort to force a vote on funding legislation have yet to do so.
The comment came during Jeffries’s weekly press conference in the Capitol when a reporter asked the Democratic leader if he has had any conversations with moderate Republicans about a potential “exit strategy” amid the looming shutdown.
The reporter mentioned Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who last week said he would join Democrats and sign a discharge petition — a mechanism to force a vote on legislation against the wishes of the Speaker — if House Republicans are unable to coalesce around a continuing resolution. Lawler told Hugh Hewitt’s radio show that he believes “at least five” Republicans would be willing to sign the discharge petition.
The conference has not yet cleared a stopgap bill, and no Republicans have signed the discharge petition.
“There’s a discharge petition that is live at this very moment. It has 213 Democratic signatures. That is a vehicle that is available right now to end extreme MAGA Republican government shutdown crisis. And the Republicans are missing in action, nowhere to be found,” Jeffries told reporters.
“Talk a good game but nowhere to be found on a discharge petition that is an available vehicle, among other options that we might have accessible to us to end the shutdown crisis,” he added.
The Democratic leader specifically name-checked Lawler.
“There is zero evidence that Mike Lawler or any of the so-called moderate Republicans in New York or anywhere else throughout this nation are willing to work with House Democrats to end this extreme MAGA Republican shutdown crisis,” Jeffries said. “Zero evidence.”
Congress is staring down a Saturday night government funding deadline. If a stopgap bill is not passed by then, the government will shut down.
The Senate advanced a bipartisan continuing resolution Thursday that funds the government until Nov. 17 and includes $6.15 billion for Ukraine and $5.99 billion for disaster assistance, but Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told his conference that he will not bring the legislation to the floor for a vote. Jeffries, for his part, called on McCarthy to hold a vote on the bill.
McCarthy is instead pushing his conference to pass a GOP-crafted stopgap bill that would be dead on arrival in the Senate but is seen as a way to kick off negotiations with Democrats. House Republicans, however, have been unable to coalesce around a proposal.
Some moderate GOP lawmakers have said they would sign a discharge petition if it is to force a vote on a stopgap bill from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
The discharge petition currently has 213 signatures, all from Democrats, and needs five Republicans to sign on to force a vote.
Jeffries said Thursday the Democratic caucus is “ready, willing and able” to find consensus with Republicans to benefit Americans but again said GOP lawmakers “are missing in action.”
“As I mentioned from the very beginning, we are ready, willing and able to find common ground with House Republicans to make life better for everyday Americans in any way possible. But we need willing partners. And those partners may talk a good game, but they are missing in action,” Jeffries said.
“And every single time they’ve had an opportunity to do the right thing, instead of standing up for the American people, they join Marjorie Taylor Greene and the right-wing extremists in voting against the interests of the American people,” he added.