To address the first point, Nancy Pelosi challenged her fellow House members to sign the discharge petition Rep. Tim Walz filed on Tuesday to force a House vote on extending the middle class tax cuts. Signing the petition is the only way to get around Boehner's roadblock. So far, 178 members have signed and of those - no Republicans.
According to a news release, Pelosi implores:
“So, today on the floor of the House, the Democrats have proposed a discharge petition, which if it receives 218 signatures – that’s only a couple dozen Republicans joining the Democrats – would automatically come to the floor and I predict, would receive the overwhelming support of the House of Representatives.
“The American people want us to work together. We are in agreement on this subject. Why? Why, my Republican colleagues, can we not vote on something where we have agreement? Where we have fairness? That will work to create jobs, to reduce the deficit, and will again, have fairness. This is the heart of the matter that is holding us here as the public watches – what is this about? This is about the $250,000 line that the President said in the campaign that he would honor and that this legislation today brings to bear.
“I urge my colleagues – out of 435 Members of the House, we only need a couple dozen Republicans to sign the discharge petition. Each one of them holds the key to a $2,000 tax cut for the middle class. Either sign the petition, urge the Speaker to bring the bill to the floor, or explain to your constituents why you do not want them to have this $2,000 tax break if they are – for 100 percent of the American people. Please sign the discharge petition. Let’s get this done this week. We could bring this bill up under unanimous consent – the message would be clear to the American people: we heard you in the campaign, be fair, do something that works, work together. This gives us that opportunity.
The Discharge Petition, which would force a vote on ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent, only needs 40 more signatures. So far the only Alabama Rep. to sign is Terri Sewell (D, AL-07). She is onboard at number 105.
Pelosi also had something to say about the House's two day work week at a press conference after Boehner sent the House home.
Q: Madam Leader, the Republicans have left town, they’re not here, you haven’t mentioned it yet but there is no Congress, I mean there is no House because the Republicans have left town. What’s your response to that?
Leader Pelosi: No, we most certainly should be here and it came as quite a surprise. And I’m really surprised that the Republicans would leave – we came in Tuesday and we left Wednesday at 12 o’clock noon – with all that needs to be done, avoiding the conversation – sounds like people don’t want to be in town for some reason. And the reason is, is because we are asking them to sign the discharge petition to urge their – if they don’t want to sign it – to urge their leadership to pass middle income tax cuts, which is the liberation, which is the freeing from the hostage taking, which is the setting the table for what can come next once we understand that we’re holding the middle class harmless as we go forward.
These folks get paid $174,000 per year. Why are our Representatives only working two days a week? They work for you. If the discharge petition gets 218 signatures the earliest the vote can be held is Christmas Eve. That will be inconvenient for Members of Congress (blame John Boehner's intransigence) but preserving the $2,200 per household middle class tax cut is a better Christmas present to the American people than anything Santa has in his bag. Congress needs to get this done, with or without John Boehner.