McConnell Flatly Rebuffs Trump’s Demand He Use The Nuclear Option


As of early Friday afternoon, the federal government is continuing to hurtle towards a partial shutdown thanks to a lack of approved funding. Early in the morning, President Donald Trump tweeted a call for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to enact the “nuclear option” in order to get funding including provisions for a border wall approved with only 51 Senators on board — but McConnell has now rebuffed the president’s request.

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As his communications director David Popp put it:

‘The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option. Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road.’

Indeed — after the president issued his demand, Republican Senators including Utah’s Orrin Hatch, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake all announced their opposition to the idea.

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In other words, it’s a no-go, no matter how many tweets the president posts about the idea. He’s called for the nuclear option to be enacted multiple times in the past in connection to stalled budget negotiations, but tweets don’t replace the traditional mechanisms for enacting government policy — imagine that.

If the option were to be enacted, the allowance for any Senator to filibuster a spending bill would be erased. Normally, filibusters need the support of 60 votes to overcome — and that means that Republicans need at least a handful of Democrats to make anything move forward under the Senate’s current system.

The latest budget negotiations have stalled over one main issue — Trump’s insistence on a border wall. He has been seeking some $5 billion for the project he’s long tried to make reality, but Democrats have insisted there’s no way they’re getting on board with that and Trump has in return basically refused to come to the negotiating table. He’s insisted he’s fine with the government shutting down for a “very long time,” as he put it this Friday morning.

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McConnell, for his part, has done his due diligence. Congress presented a spending bill to the White House to keep the government open earlier this week — but it didn’t include the money Trump wants for the border wall, and he rejected it.

Thursday night, the currently Republican-led House approved a spending bill that did include over $5 billion for Trump’s wall, but that was just a public relations stunt and never had a chance of proceeding to full Congressional approval. Republicans won’t even have a chance to continue with similar public relations stunts after January since Democrats gained some 40 seats across the United States in the midterms.

In the meantime, Trump continues to run aground with Republicans at large. This week, McConnell broke with the president over his differences with outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis, supporting the retired general’s commitment to maintaining traditional American alliances.

He’s previously sparred with the president in similar fashion to what’s unfolding presently, with Trump having pinned blame for his health care package failing on McConnell at one point — forever refusing to look in the mirror and even consider the idea that maybe he’s not the demigod he casts himself as.

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