President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirade suggesting he might force a government shutdown as a bargaining tool next September sent congressional Republicans scrambling for cover.
Republican leaders lived through the two-week 2013 shutdown forced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Trump’s tweet saying "a good 'shutdown’” could again be in the offing clearly hit a nerve among senators already nervous about the new administration’s track record on Capitol Hill.
Trump took to Twitter to criticize the 11-bill omnibus appropriations package after Democrats were widely viewed as scoring major wins in negotiations, including blocking the funding he wants for a border wall and $18 billion in cuts to domestic programs.
The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
Some members of the GOP reacted diplomatically, with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) using what he said is the "multiple choice” approach.
"One of his options was that we need to elect more Republicans in 2018 and I’m certainly for that,” Blunt said.
But other Republicans were more blunt than Blunt:
"I wish he’d think twice before he tweets,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"He can say what he wants. This is the Congress—there’s separation of powers—and we appropriate,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
However, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, had a good excuse for ducking the matter entirely.
"I was at a classified briefing today so I didn’t know about it,” Moran said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is determined to avoid shutdowns that damage the party’s reputation, signaled Trump is going to have to deal with the hand he’s been dealt. McConnell said there will be no more changes to the filibuster rule to make life easier for the new president.
"There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar and that will not happen,” McConnell said.
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