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Discharge petition

Method for forcing a committee to act on a bill. In the House, a Member offers a motion on the floor "to discharge the committee from further consideration of the bill". The Clerk of the House then draws up a discharge petition, and if a majority of the House (218 Members) signs it, the petition is placed on the discharge calendar. If the committee has not acted within seven days after the petition is placed on the calendar, any Member can call up the discharge motion which, if approved by the House, leads the way for a motion to bring up the bill itself. The difficulty of obtaining 218 signatures, which are made public, is one reason why this procedure is infrequently used in the House.

The motion "to discharge a committee from consideration" is subject to filibuster in the Senate. This potential for obstruction of all legislative business is one reason that the Senate almost never uses the discharge petition as a way to force a bill from committee to the floor.

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