President Donald Trump responded to the ongoing government shutdown Sunday morning by issuing a tweet urging Senate Republicans to consider using the nuclear option to pass the House’s Continuing Resolution bill and put an end to the shutdown.
“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border,” Trump wrote. “The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!”
The shutdown was triggered Saturday morning after the Senate failed to pass the House’s Continuing Resolution bill, which would have funded the government for an additional four weeks and also extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program by six years.
According to CNBC, 45 Senate Democrats and five Senate Republicans voted against the funding bill late Friday, including Sens. Rand Paul R-Ky., and Jeff Flake, R-Az.
For the bill to pass through the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must muster up a minimum of 60 votes. However, were he to trigger the nuclear option, he’d require only a 51-vote “simple majority.”
Politico noted Sunday morning that McConnell has signaled his opposition to pursuing the nuclear option, despite the fact that he used the same trick last year to push through the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The reason for his hesitation lies with the potential repercussions. Were Democrats to retake only two additional Senate seats in the upcoming midterm elections, they would then be permitted to follow the Republicans’ lead and exploit the nuclear option to push through their own agenda.
To be clear, it was former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, who first triggered the nuclear option in November 2013, using it “to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority,” as reported then by The Washington Post.
This move paved the way for McConnell to apply the nuclear option to Gorsuch’s confirmation, and if he were to trigger it again — this time for just a continuing resolution — it would set a precedent that some conservatives find concerning.
Moreover, it remains unclear if even the nuclear option would provide McConnell with enough votes to pass the CR, given that two out of the Senate’s 51 Republicans voted against it Friday.
Some worry that if McConnell applied the nuclear option, Sen. John McCain would vote against it.
“John McCain is a question mark, for example, both for health reasons and because if he participated in such a vote he might oppose the elimination of the filibuster,” Patterico of RedState pointed out.
Patterico further emphasized the worry among conservatives that “we’re likely looking at a wave election this year. Democrats could retake control of both houses of Congress.”
Regardless, McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session all day Sunday, including up until as late as 1 am Monday morning, according to Bloomberg.
“We’ll be right back at this tomorrow and as long as it takes,” he said Saturday evening.
The problem is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly made it clear he has zero interest in a CR and would rather that any potential deal “sets budget caps for defense and non-defense spending, protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, and provides disaster relief funds.”
And unless either McConnell pursues the nuclear option or Schumer moderates his position, the shutdown may very well continue for far longer than anyone had initially expected.
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