President Donald Trump has asserted that to advance his legislative agenda, either more Republicans should be voted into office to bolster their congressional majority or that the Senate filibuster should be eliminated so that all bills could be passed with a simple majority vote.
On July 17, Trump's agenda hit a roadblock when it became clear that the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the GOP proposal to replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, did not have enough votes to pass the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced that he would hold a vote to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
McConnell proposed that the chamber vote to uproot the health care law and delay the implementation of a replacement by two years.
On July 18, Trump took to social media to suggest that the Republican majority in Congress needed to grow to pass his agenda, Fox News reports.
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"With only a very small majority, the Republicans in the House & Senate need more victories next year since Dems totally obstruct, no votes!" Trump tweeted.
The president then followed up, calling on McConnell to eliminate the Senate filibuster, a maneuver that has been coined the "nuclear option."
"The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes," Trump added. "Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!"
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Trump had suggested the nuclear option before, and McConnell bluntly stated he would not use that strategy.
"Either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent," Trump tweeted on May 2.
"We are not going to do that," McConnell said from Capitol Hill, according to the Washington Examiner. "There is an overwhelming bipartisan majority that is not interested in changing how the Senate operates on the legislative calendar and that will not happen."
The Senate majority leader concluded that eliminating the filibuster "would fundamentally change how the Senate has worked for a very long time."
On July 18, McConnell's proposal to outright repeal the ACA crumbled when three GOP senators announced they would not vote for the measure. Republicans control 52 seats in the chamber and McConnell would need at least 50 votes to advance an ACA repeal or replacement through budget reconciliation.
Trump's suggestion that McConnell deploy the nuclear option would not have saved the GOP effort to repeal the ACA. Eliminating the filibuster would reduce the majority necessary to advance legislation from 60 votes to 51 votes. Fewer than 50 Senate Republicans supported the BCRA or the effort to repeal the ACA.