The number two House Republican leader made a fresh push Wednesday for Senate Republicans to change rules to make it easier to break filibusters of spending bills, echoing a similar call from President Donald Trump for the Senate to set aside long-held precedent that requires at least 60 votes for major legislation to pass.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted that the House was on the verge of passing all 12 annual appropriations measures, something that hasn’t happened since 2004.
“We will pass them with a majority in Congress. I believe the Senate should do the same, with a simple majority of the Senate,” McCarthy told reporters. “The Senate should waive the 60 rule and pass it with a simple majority and take it to the President’s desk.”
But McCarthy’s proposal, which he called for also in 2015, was immediately rejected by the top GOP leaders in both the Senate and the House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart told CNN, “The Senate Republican conference does not support changing the threshold for cloture motions on legislation.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged the 60-vote threshold filibuster “is a great source of frustration for members of the House” but also defended the system created by the Constitution, saying, “the founders meant it this way.”
Earlier this year, more than half of the Senate Republican conference signed a letter stating that they did not support changing the filibuster rules for legislation. McConnell did deploy the so-called “nuclear option” allowing a simple majority vote for judicial nominees, ahead of a vote on then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. That followed a similar move in 2013 when Senate Democrats first used the nuclear option to make it easier to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s executive and judicial appointments, except those to the Supreme Court.
McCarthy’s comments were surprising. Traditionally, House GOP leaders avoid wading into procedural issues with the upper chamber. Ryan has repeatedly declined efforts to discuss Senate strategy or rules. But the frustration and open criticism among rank-and-file House Republicans of their colleagues across the Capitol has grown after they struggled to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare only to see the effort die in the Senate.