Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stood firm Wednesday in support of his chamber’s filibuster, resisting repeated calls by President Donald Trump to scrap a rule that protects the interests of the minority party.
“I simply disagree with the president about the harm that it does,” McConnell said during a Politico Playbook interview in front of a live audience. “As I’ve told him repeatedly, the votes just aren’t there to change it.”
The 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation in the 100-member Senate has been a frequent source of irritation for Trump, who again voiced frustration during a closed-door meeting at the White House on Tuesday with several House and Senate Republicans who sit on the appropriations committees.
In a tweet last week, Trump also derided the “stupid Filibuster Rule” and said it was “killing” the Republican Party and stymieing some of his legislative efforts.
McConnell suggested taking a longer view, saying the rule has helped Republicans resist unwanted Democratic initiatives when Democrats are in power.
“Both sides, having been up and down a number of times, understand the advantages when you’re not in the majority,” McConnell said. “There’s a whole parade of horribles that would have occurred in the first years of Barack Obama.”
“I think it’s protected the country from wide swings one way or the other,” McConnell added, saying he thinks the rule is “not likely to change.”
McConnell also argued that Trump has had considerable success on Capitol Hill under existing rules. He cited the Republican tax bill passed last year and the approval of a slew of conservative judges.
While there is a 60-vote requirement for legislation, it has been eliminated for all judicial and executive branch nominations.