WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the country needs a “good ‘shutdown,'” as well advocated for changing Senate rules, in a pair of tweets where he complained about the congressional negotiating process.
“The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We … either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” Trump said Tuesday in two consecutive tweets.
Democrats quickly hopped on Trump’s call for a shutdown, including Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who tweeted, “The President just called for a government shutdown this fall. No President has ever done anything like this.”
Congressional leaders announced Sunday that they’d reached a deal to avert a government shutdown until September. The deal did not include several Trump campaign promises — including money for a border wall — in part because GOP leaders needed Democratic votes to pass the deal in the Senate.
Senate rules require 60 votes to break a filibuster — a tool Democrats have shown in the past they’re willing to employ (most notably during the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court fight), and which they would likely use again to prevent passage of Trump’s budget proposal when it comes up again in September.
The President’s suggestion that we “change the rules now to 51%” is a variation of the so-called “nuclear option” that Republicans deployed during the Gorsuch Supreme Court fight — when they lowered the number of votes needed to break a filibuster of a judicial nominee. In this case, Trump is proposing a rule change that would also lower the number of votes needed to break a legislative filibuster, something Republicans left untouched when they changed Senate rules for Gorsuch.
The shorter-term spending deal brokered by Congress last week is a continuing resolution that, unlike standard budget legislation, is passed through reconciliation and is therefore not subject to a filibuster.
While Republicans do have majorities in both the House and Senate, their 52-seat Senate majority is too thin to break a filibuster unless eight Democrats side with the GOP.
That current deal, which has yet to be voted on and funds the government through September, simply set Republicans and Democrats on a collision course further down the road — a confrontation that Trump seems eager to embrace.