Despite Trump tweet, McConnell opposes using 'nuclear option' in shutdown battle

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is against using the so-called "nuclear option" to end a budget stalemate and reopen the federal government.
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday urged the Senate to use the tactic to pass a budget.
  • The move would enable Republicans to approve a spending plan with only a simple majority instead of 60 votes, which requires Democratic support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is against using the so-called "nuclear option" to end a budget stalemate and reopen the federal government, despite President Donald Trump's urging.

"The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation," a representative for McConnell said in a statement Sunday morning.

The remark came not long after Trump, in a tweet, urged Republicans in the Senate to use the tactic, which would only require a simple majority to pass a long-term spending plan. As it stands, the GOP needs to garner at least some Democratic support to overcome a filibuster.

McConnell has repeatedly opposed using the tactic, which would scrap a potential filibuster meant to hold up votes, when it comes to legislation. The fear is that, if Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they could dramatically reshape policy.

Republicans currently hold a 51-49 edge in the Senate.

The Republican caucus, however, did use the nuclear option last spring to enable the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. The Democrats, when they last held a majority in the Senate in 2013, used it to confirm Obama Cabinet officials and federal judges below the Supreme Court level.

Beyond Gorsuch, the simply majority vote needed for judicial appointments has allowed Trump and McConnell to move quickly toward reshaping other levels of the federal court system. The Senate confirmed a dozen Circuit Court of Appeals judges to lifetime appointments during Trump's first year, the most ever in that span for a president.