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113th Congress House Floor Procedures Manual

XVI. Discharge Petitions

After a bill has been introduced and referred to committee for 30 legislative days or more, any Member may file a motion with the Clerk of the House to discharge the committee from further consideration of the bill. A Member may also file a motion to discharge the Rules Committee from consideration of a special rule after the rule has been pending before the Rules Committee for at least seven legislative days and the bill has been reported by a standing committee or has been referred to a standing committee for thirty legislative days.

Discharge petitions may cover only a single introduced measure, not multiple bills. A motion to discharge must only provide for the consideration of similar subject matter. In other words, a discharge motion cannot waive the germaneness rule.

If a Member is successful in convincing a majority of the total membership of the House (218 Members) to sign a discharge petition, the petition becomes eligible for consideration on the second or fourth Monday of the month after a seven legislative day layover (except during the last six days of any session when the layover is waived). The discharge motion is debatable for twenty minutes, equally divided between the proponents and an opponent. If the motion to discharge a bill is adopted, it is in order to move that the House immediately consider the bill itself. If the motion to discharge a rule is adopted, the House turns immediately to consideration of the rule.

NOTE: Signatures on a discharge petition must be made available to the public by the Clerk and are made available on the Internet. The names of new signatories are printed in the Congressional Record on the last legislative day of each week.