Ahead of Shutdown, GOP Senator Floats ‘Nuclear’ Option to Build Trump’s Border Wall

Sen. Steve Daines pitched rules change after House GOP voted to amend spending stopgap

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is advocating for changing the rules to pass a bill funding the border wall for President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When senators make their way back to the Capitol Friday to go back to the drawing board on government funding, there are sure to be some calls to change the rules to help get President Donald Trump the border wall.

Maybe even from Trump himself.

Sen. Steve Daines, a member of the Appropriations Committee, is floating using the “nuclear option” to effectively change the Senate’s rules to make it easier to agree to the latest House-passed spending bill that provides in excess of $5 billion in funds for the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“House just passed a bill that fully funds government and enables @realDonaldTrump to secure our border/build the wall,” the Montana Republican tweeted. “Senate can do same by eliminating the filibuster. 51 votes, same as we do for judges!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has long said the support does not exist for extending the simple-majority threshold to limit debate to the legislative calendar, and back in January a senior Senate GOP aide said the votes did not exist within the Republican Conference for such a move.

Watch: What’s the Nuclear Option? Dismantling This Senate Jargon

Senators are expected back in town for possible votes Friday afternoon, hours ahead of a government funding deadline with what seems to once again be an inevitable lapse in funding.

There is no reason to think that has changed, especially with Democrats about to take over control of the House of Representatives.

The “nuclear option” is so named because it involves having a majority of senators change Senate precedents in order to effectively change the rules without the two-thirds that would be required to invoke cloture on changes to the standing rules themselves.

Even though it is beyond a long shot, President Donald Trump himself has pushed for the setting of a simple-majority threshold, and there should be every expectation that he could again on Friday.

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