4 Democratic centrists to McHenry: Let’s make a deal

4 Democratic centrists to McHenry: Let’s make a deal

Four top centrist Democrats on Friday sent a pitch to Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry: Let’s get the House working again.

In a letter to McHenry that was obtained by POLITICO, Democrats told him they support giving him “temporary, expanded authorities” that would allow the House to take up the most urgent bills — namely, government funding plans.

Specifically, the Democrats are proposing to let McHenry bring up any emergency aid for Ukraine or Israel, a short-term bill that extends government funding through Jan. 11, or general consideration of fiscal 2024 spending bills. Those powers should be limited to 15-day increments, they proposed, with extensions possible if the House GOP continues to remain without a leader.

In exchange, the Democratic quartet suggested, their party would be allowed to fill up 50 percent of the House’s suspension calendar — which is reserved for noncontroversial bills and requires two-thirds votes for passage, not simple majorities.

The letter, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), is an olive branch to a sputtering House GOP that has reached its 10th day without a speaker. Republicans are actively discussing ways to empower McHenry to bring at least some bills to the floor, particularly related to government spending — though the idea has run into opposition among some conservatives.

Democrats could be the key to unlocking further powers, if the GOP chooses to take them up on the offer. The next government funding deadline is Nov. 17.

The letter’s other signatories were Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine.). All four are leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, whose members briefly discussed a possible way out of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s government funding bind last month.

In the end, McCarthy never opened the door to such cross-aisle talks, opting instead to pass a stopgap funding bill with more Democratic than Republican votes — then getting ejected from the speakership by eight frustrated critics in his own party alongside a united opposition party.

“In light of our nation’s pressing issues, a looming government shutdown, and the attacks on our key ally, Israel, we strongly support an immediate vote to expand the Speaker Pro Tempore’s authorities to allow for the consideration of a legislative agenda limited to the most pressing issues,” the centrist Democrats wrote in the letter.

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