Trump is proposing the “nuclear option” on the government shutdown. It makes no sense.

7 thoughts about Trump’s suggestion to change Senate rules to avert shutdown.

It’s the second day of the government shutdown and President Donald Trump is already pushing the “nuclear option.” In this case, an option that probably wouldn’t solve anything.

Over Twitter Sunday morning, Trump advised Republican leaders to make a historic change to Senate rules, and pass a partisan government spending bill with only 51 votes. A spending bill has always needed 60 votes to pass the Senate, which, given the makeup of the current Congress, requires bipartisan support.

The government spending deadline elapsed at midnight Friday, and Democrats and Republicans are still deep in a standoff over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump has promised to sunset fully by March 5.

Frustrated with Trump’s inability to keep to his word on immigration negotiations, Democrats walked away from a short-term government spending bill that would have kept the government open for four more weeks and funded the Children’s Health Insurance program for six years — something that Democrats have been calling for since the programs funding lapsed last October — because it did not include a path forward on DACA.

A few thoughts on Trump’s nuclear proposal:

  1. On Friday, the four-week spending bill failed with both Democrats and Republican defections. Four Republicans voted against the proposal. It’s not even clear at this point if a partisan spending bill could pass the Senate.
  2. Not to mention that Trump is suggesting Congress pass a permanent spending package — the legislative language for which doesn’t even exist.
  3. The only proposal currently on the table is a Republican offer to shorten the short-term spending bill to three weeks instead of four, heeding to only part of Democratic demands. That counter would not include any agreement on immigration, or fund CHIP.
  4. There is no push from anyone in either chamber to put forward a major bill, instead of buying time to negotiate with a stop-gap. Given all the barriers involved — from writing a package, to getting support for it, there’s simply no way a big spending deal would get done faster and reopen the government sooner.
  5. By Saturday night negotiations on both immigration and to reopen the government still hadn’t progressed. Senators left the Hill after another late night with little to show for it.
  6. Sunday at 1 p.m. they return. Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled a vote on a new spending plan by 1 a.m. Monday morning, or sooner. It’s still not clear what the Senate will vote on then.
  7. At this point, negotiations need to slide toward common ground. But instead, Trump has again escalated partisan rancor. If taken up, his latest “nuclear” suggestion would indicate not only the ultimate failure in negotiation, but fundamentally alter the way the country is governed. It probably wouldn’t even work.