You're about to hear the words "discharge petition" a lot. Here's what that is and why it has a small chance to change the lives of millions of poor people.
The Democrats have chosen their signature issue for 2014: the minimum wage. The minimum wage is very popular, even among Republican voters, but not among elected Republicans. Why? A few reasons. The rich people and corporations they run generally oppose minimum wage hikes, because that leaves less money for the people at the top. House Republicans also see it as their sworn duty to deny Obama any more victories, and a minimum wage increase would definitely go in Obama’s win column.
And Republican’s can block Obama on the minimum wage, because to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, the House of Republicans would have to pass a bill, and to do that, a vote would have to be called by this guy (PHOTO: Reuters):
That, of course, is Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). Boehner has promised to not bring a minimum wage increase to the House floor. If he did, it would likely pass, and the vote would look something like this:
That’s the recent vote to raise the debt ceiling. Once in a while Boehner has no choice but to let a bill pass with nearly all the Democrats and enough Republicans to push it over the line. But he won’t do that for the minimum wage, even though it would likely pass.
That’s where the discharge petition comes in. House Democrats can go around Boehner if they get a majority of House members to sign a petition to bring a minimum wage bill to the floor.
Why would twenty or so House Republicans defy Boehner like that? The Democrats are banking on this (PHOTO: Shuang Li, Flickr, CC License):
That would be the Republican civil war. Since the government shutdown and the damage it did to the Republican brand, centrist Republicans have been getting sick of the Tea Party, and how much power it wields in the House.
Have things gotten so bad in the Republican Party that enough of them will sign the discharge petition? We will know soon.