Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday thoroughly rejected President Donald Trump’s call to nuke the legislative filibuster.
“That will not happen,” the longtime lawmaker told reporters Tuesday when asked if he would lower the Senate’s 60-vote threshold needed to end debate on legislation to a simple 51-vote majority. “There is an overwhelming majority ... not interested in changing the way the Senate operates [on legislation].”
McConnell’s remarks come the same day Trump took to Twitter to express his frustration with the filibuster system. In fact, the president tweeted Tuesday morning that the U.S. “needs a good shutdown” in the fall in order to fix the “mess” in Washington, D.C.
And over the weekend, Trump told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum that the Senate’s “archaic rules” are “really a bad thing for the country.”
“We have so many bad concepts in our rules, and it’s forcing bad decisions,” Trump said. “Decisions that nobody wanted are made because of archaic rules, and that’s something that I think we’re gonna have to change.”
The president’s comments came as Congress prepares to approve a spending measure that will keep the government funded through September. The legislation is not a complete win for Republicans because, for example, it does not include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, it doesn’t stop federal dollars from going to so-called sanctuary cities that don’t fully comply with federal immigration laws, and it maintains funding for Planned Parenthood.
However, the deal does include $1.5 billion for border security and $15 billion for increased defense spending, though it is $15 billion shy of the $30 billion Trump requested.
According to McConnell, though, Congress is not eager to get rid of the 60-vote threshold to end filibusters on legislation. In April, Republicans changed Senate rules to require only a majority vote to end debate on Supreme Court nominations when Democrats filibustered the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
“It would fundamentally change how the Senate has worked for a very long time,” McConnell said. “We’re not going to do that.”
Last month, 61 senators sent the leader a letter pushing him to leave the legislative filibuster in place, according to Politico. McConnell vowed to keep the rule in place for as long as he is the Senate majority leader.
“We either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent,” Trump tweeted.
If McConnell has his way, it’ll have to be the former.