President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to force a government shutdown later this year after congressional Democrats and Republicans struck a budget deal that largely neglected his priorities. “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” the president wrote on Twitter. “We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters declined to comment on the president’s tweet or explain its meaning.
The message appeared to goad the Republican-controlled Senate to change rules that now require 60 votes to end a filibuster of legislation. Republicans reduced the threshold to 51 votes for Supreme Court nominees this year and could do the same for legislation with a simple majority vote.
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Trump prodded Republicans in the Senate to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations as early as Feb. 1, less than two weeks after taking office. Republicans voted to do so on April 6, clearing a path for confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch over Democratic objections.
In recent days, Trump has turned his attention to the use of filibusters to block legislation and federal spending.
In interview with Bloomberg News on Monday, Trump said: “Our system is archaic.” In a Fox News interview aired Friday, he said, “maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good for the nation, things are going to have to be different.”
The White House has tried to spin the budget deal reached by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress as a victory, but the president’s comments Tuesday suggest frustration. The bill doesn’t provide as much money for a defense build-up as Trump requested and also doesn’t fund a wall on the Mexican border, while preserving federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s health service that provides abortions. Democrats have expressed satisfaction with the agreement, which keeps the government running through September 30, the end of fiscal 2017.
In the Bloomberg interview, Trump indicated that he didn’t want to see a shutdown –- at least not this month.
“Both sides agree, we have to keep government going, we don’t want to shut government,” he said. “We’ll have more of these to discuss in the future,” he said of the budget deal.
He also said: “You have to remember, this is all coming due again in September, October, and we’re going to have another round of discussions.”