Rep. Peter King backs discharge petition on ‘clean’ funding bill

Rep. Peter King (N.Y.) would support a discharge petition on a "clean" spending bill if GOP leaders don't bring it to the floor soon, the centrist Republican vowed this week.

King has long pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to take up the Senate-passed continuing resolution (CR) to reopen the government. But he has refused to buck leadership further by endorsing the Democrats' discharge petition, which would force a floor vote on the bill.

Until Friday.

"If we have to do a discharge petition, ultimately, we will, but this is going to come [to the floor]," King said in an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt that is scheduled to air Friday night.

"I think John Boehner has wanted this moment all along," King added. "He never wanted to close the government. He was backed into it by this group of 30 or 40 people. Now he has the leverage he needs, and I think it's going to come to the House floor, no matter what."

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More than 20 House Republicans have indicated they would back a clean CR if it came to the floor, but King is the first to announce his support for the Democrats' discharge petition.

Boehner last month attempted to move a spending bill to prevent a government shutdown that the Senate could have passed “clean,” but his right-most flank insisted that changes to ObamaCare be part of the bill. The conservative opposition led to a prolonged back-and-forth between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over the healthcare provisions.

When no deal was reached by Oct. 1, much of the government shut down.

President Obama has publicly said he won’t negotiate with Republicans on either the CR or the debt ceiling until the dual crises are resolved. The shutdown entered its 11th day Friday.

But with polls showing that voters are blaming Republicans to a much greater degree than Obama for the impasse, GOP leaders have begun to soften their position in recent days, and it appears that the White House is negotiating with them.

On Thursday, Republicans offered Obama a new plan under which they would agree to extend the Treasury's borrowing authority through Nov. 22 if Obama will agree to negotiate with them on a longer-term budget deal that would reopen the government.

King predicted Friday that clean bills to raise the debt ceiling and end the shutdown would pass easily — if GOP leaders would bring them to the floor.

“I think it would have passed earlier in the week after the poll numbers have come out," he told Bloomberg. "It's going to pass overwhelmingly."