Donald Trump

Trump: Senate should change rules if shutdown stalemate continues

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 January, 2018, 11:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 January, 2018, 11:28pm

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that if the government shutdown stalemate continued, Republicans should fund the government by changing Senate rules, which currently require a super-majority for appropriations bills to pass.

“The Dems (Democrats) just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51 percent (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget,” Trump said on Twitter.

Trump’s proposal was almost immediately rejected by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Republicans oppose changing the chamber’s rules so that legislation to fund the government and end the current shutdown could pass with a simple majority, according to a spokesman for McConnell.

“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” he said.

Current Senate rules require a super-majority of three-fifths of the chamber, usually 60 out of 100, for legislation to clear procedural hurdles and pass.

Funding for federal agencies ran out on Saturday with Trump and Republican lawmakers locked in a stand-off with Democrats. There appeared to be no clear path for a quick end to the crisis.

Democrats say short-term spending legislation must include protections for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as “Dreamers”. Republicans, who have a slim 51-49 Senate majority, said they would not negotiate on immigration until the government was reopened.

With elections set in November for a third of US Senate seats and the entire House of Representatives, both sides are manoeuvring for the shutdown.

At the same time, Vice-President Mike Pence accused Congress for playing politics with military pay by failing to keep the government open.

Pence told US soldiers stationed near the Syrian border on Sunday: “You deserve better.” He said the soldiers and their families “shouldn’t have to worry about getting paid”.

“We’re going to get this fixed. We’re going to meet our obligations to you and your families,” Pence said. “I urge you, on behalf of your commander in chief, set aside any distractions, mind your mission, take care of one another.”

The vice-president said Trump’s administration will not reopen negotiations “on illegal immigration” until Congress reopens the government and until soldiers and their families receive “the benefits and wages you’ve earned”.

Uniformed service members and law enforcement officers are among the essential government employees who will be working without pay until the federal government reopens.

Additional reporting by Associated Press