A Democratic congressman expects to file a special legislative petition on Tuesday that would force the full House to vote on the farm bill in the event that 218 signatures are collected, a Democratic aide told National Journal.
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, will present the measure, known as a discharge petition, to the House clerk as soon as the Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill is reported to the House.
The petition amounts to an attempt at an end-run around House leadership. If 218 signatures are collected, the farm bill could move to the floor for debate without taking the route bills typically take, usually involving a Rules Committee meeting to set debate parameters and only then after leadership has placed an item on the agenda.
Because the petition essentially circumvents leadership, it's likely Republican leaders in the House would oppose the bill, the aide said. But the advantage of the maneuver, if it succeeds, is to raise the profile of a piece of legislation that leadership won't bring to the floor.
It's unclear at this stage whether Democratic leadership will support the petition, the aide said.
The Agriculture Committee passed the farm bill on July 12, by a vote of 35-11, but Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., did not report the bill to the House clerk until Monday, the aide said. Discharge petitions can only be introduced either after bills have been reported out of committee, or after 30 legislative days go by.