Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has pushed back on President Donald Trump's calls for ending the Senate filibuster that requires 60 votes to pass the majority of legislation in the chamber. In Flake's view, changing the Senate rules would result in all future legislation being rammed through on a partisan basis.
On July 29, Trump took to social media to urge Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to eliminate the Senate filibuster and lower the threshold to pass legislation from 60 votes to a simple majority of 51, The Hill reports.
"Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!" Trump tweeted. "It is killing the R Party... Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time..."
The president added, "If the Senate Democrats ever got the chance, they would switch to a 51 majority vote in first minute. They are laughing at R's. MAKE CHANGE!"
On July 31, Flake asserted that Trump's proposal would have dire consequences for future legislation.
"That would be a big mistake," Flake told CBS News. "We are at our best in the Senate when we work across the aisle."
The Arizona senator noted that the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act was passed by a party-line vote by Democrats, and that the current GOP-majority Congress was consumed by efforts to repeal the health care law.
"I don't want to lurch back and forth every couple of years from one extreme to the other," Flake said. "Those rules are there for a reason. They're good ... They invite us to work across the aisle."
On July 27, GOP lawmakers' last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA through a so-called "skinny repeal" bill was squashed when three Senate Republicans voted against the legislation. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber and required at least 50 votes to pass the skinny repeal through budget reconciliation. Even if McConnell had eliminated the filibuster, the skinny repeal would not have passed.
Flake asserted that his party did not have a strong enough majority to pass bills on a partisan basis and urged his colleagues to reach out to their Democratic peers.
"Obviously, we have 52 senators," Flake said. "We have a small majority. I think we've reached about the limits of what we can do just without our small majority. We've got to start reaching out across the aisle ... That's not going to happen if you refer to the other party as my enemies or losers or clowns."
On May 2, McConnell stated that he would not eliminate the Senate filibuster.
"We are not going to do that," McConnell said at the time, reports 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," McConnell added. "It would fundamentally change how the Senate has worked for a very long time."