Parliamentary Outreach Program


After a bill has been introduced and referred to committee for thirty legislative days or more, any Member may file a motion (under clause 2 of rule XV) 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 of a special rule, pending before that committee for at least seven legislative days, providing for the consideration of that bill.

Discharge petitions may cover only a single introduced measure, not multiple bills. If the Member is successful in convincing a majority of the total membership of the House (218 Members) to sign a discharge petition, the motion to discharge is placed on the Calendar of Motions to Discharge Committees and 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 20 minutes, one-half of the time for the proponents and one-half of the time for the opponents. If the motion to discharge a bill is adopted, it is then 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: Under a Rules change in the 103rd Congress, signatures on a discharge petition must be made available to the public on a daily basis by the Clerk. The names of new signatories are printed in the Congressional Record on the last legislative day of each week.