Trump urges Republicans to launch ‘nuclear option’ on federal budget stalemate

Trump urges Republicans to launch ‘nuclear option’ on federal budget stalemate
Trump suggests "nuclear option" for ending budget stalemate. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is asking Republicans to deploy a so-called “nuclear option” to end the federal budget stalemate.

Trump tweeted that “Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget.” That would mean changing Senate rules to allow legislation to pass with a simple majority instead of 60 votes, The Hill reported.

Finger-pointing continues as each party blames the other for the government shutdown.

Republicans are calling it “Schumer Shutdown,” a jab at Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have extended funding temporarily until budget details are worked out. Schumer has fired back by saying Democrats can’t negotiate with Trump because he keeps changing his position and caters to right-wing priorities.

On Saturday, Trump said Democrats were favoring illegal immigration over the nation’s military.

Is this really possible?

Changing the rules is not so easy.

House Republicans are able to push bills through because of the size of their majority. That’s how they advanced a spending bill Thursday to keep the government open. But in the Senate, Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority and they need bipartisan support, USA Today noted.

“If ordinary rules prevailed, the majority rules in the Senate, the government would be open as of today,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN Sunday when he was asked about Trump’s call to change the rules.

“It also responds to this constant criticism we hear: ‘Oh, you Republicans control the White House and the House and the Senate, why can’t you just fund the government?’ ” Mulvaney continued. “It takes 60 votes in the Senate. We cannot open the government without Senate Democrats’ support.”

Such a rule change doesn’t seem to have enough support.

“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” David Popp, spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told USA Today.

And what about support from Democrats?

“That would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers. We have to acknowledge a respect for the minority,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on ABC.

Government funding ran out at 12:01 a.m. Saturday when the Senate blocked a plan that would have extended operations for four weeks.