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President Donald Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday to use the “nuclear option” to avoid a government shutdown.
“Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done!” he wrote on Twitter. “Our Country is counting on you!”
The government funding bill, including the $5 billion for border security passed the House of Representatives on Thursday with a wide majority.
Senate Democrats have vowed to oppose the bill which would prevent it from reaching the 60 vote threshold required to move forward.
Senator Steve Daines of Montana floated the option of using the nuclear option, which would allow the legislation to move forward with a 51 vote majority.
“House just passed a bill that fully funds government and enables Donald Trump to secure our border and build the wall,” he wrote on Twitter. “Senate can do same by eliminating the filibuster. 51 votes, same as we do for judges!”
Sen. Harry Reid first employed the nuclear option to move forward on confirmation of judges nominated by former President Barack Obama. McConnell followed suit, blaming Reid for ending the Senate tradition when it came to judges. Reid also thwarted the filibuster by using budget reconciliation to move forward on Obamacare, the same tactic used by Senate Republicans to pass landmark tax reform legislation.
But McConnell has remained unanimously opposed to the idea of using the nuclear option to pass routine funding legislation.
“That will not happen,” McConnell told reporters in May 2017. “It would fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time. We’re not going to do that.”
Retiring Senators Jeff Flake, Orrin Hatch, and Lamar Alexander all signaled their opposition to Trump’s suggestion on Friday.
“We have rules to follow. I want to put a stop to this practice of the Senate breaking its rules to change its rules,” Alexander said in a statement. “I will not vote to turn the Senate into a rule-breaking institution and I hope that my colleagues will not.”
McConnell would need 50 votes in the Senate to employ the nuclear option.