Trump Hopes For ‘Good’ Shutdown To Nix Filibuster Get Chilly Senate Reception

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

With a few exceptions, Republicans were eager to push back Tuesday on suggestions by President Trump that the Senate needed a “good” shutdown so that it would nuke its legislative filibuster rules.

Perhaps the strongest pushback came directly from the top, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked if it was time to change the Senate rules for passing legislation.

“No, it isn’t,” McConnell told reporters flatly.

“It would fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time,” he added. “We’re not going to do that.”

The President complained on Twitter earlier Tuesday that Republicans needed Democratic votes to reach the 60-vote threshold required to pass a recent short-term federal government spending bill.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, voiced support for Trump’s proposal at the daily press briefing, saying a shutdown would at least represent “something different.”

But on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, few senators were willing to sign on to Trump’s idea.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said there was no such thing as a good government shutdown and that he disagreed with Trump’s proposal to change the filibuster rules.

“It’s probably best if the President let Congress deal with those issues ourselves and maybe let him deal with some of the issues he has to deal with at the White House,” Corker said, adding that changing the filibuster rules was a “non-sequitur” in the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the most senior GOP senator, told reporters that he was going to talk to Trump about the filibuster, according to Politico.

“He and I differ on that because without the filibuster this country would’ve been gone a long time ago,” Hatch said.

A number of senators raised their concerns about Trump’s tweet to Vice President Mike Pence at a Senate GOP lunch Tuesday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters afterward.

“Folks just emphasized that we think the Senate as a consensus-building organization is what our founding fathers envisioned and is important to the culture of the institution,” Cassidy said.

Trump’s trial balloon for a September shutdown comes as Congress prepares to vote on a government spending bill to avoid a funding lapse. If that bill passes, the next funding deadline will be in the fall.

Democrats have characterized the negotiations around the spending bill as a success for their caucus, as they were able to prevent appropriations for a border wall and a Planned Parenthood defunding measure. Mulvaney himself on Tuesday admitted that the gloating had gotten under Trump’s skin.

A few Republicans on the Hill were willing to speculate that there might be a time in the future where the GOP Senate may seek to change the rules after all.

“You never know whats going to happen up here and it depends on the circumstances at the time, and so forth,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, later adding, “If the Democrats just threaten to shut down the argument, it’s worth a debate.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK