President Donald Trump stated on Tuesday the Republicans in the US Senate should change the rules for voting in the legislative body to have a 51-vote majority instead of the current 60 votes.
Unlike the Senate, the House of Representatives has a 51 percent simple majority rule to pass legislation. Because legislation requires 60 of 100 Senators to concur to bring a bill up for a vote, Senators often negotiate compromises to make sure bills will have enough support.
Nomination by the US president was also subject to the same requirements until 2013 when then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid responded to Republican obstruction of former President Barack Obama’s nominees by invoking the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate the 60-vote requirement except for the US Supreme Court nominees.
Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eliminated that exception this year to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court after Senate Democrats insisted on a 60-vote threshold to move his nomination forward.
Senate Democrats and some Republicans have said they would oppose a move by McConnell to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for legislation because it would curtail the rights of senators to engage in debate and diminish the Senate’s traditional role of slowing down legislation by allowing the majority party to ram bills through the upper chamber.
Last month, a group of 61 Senators sent a letter to McConnell and minority leader Chuck Schumer saying they would oppose any attempt to change the Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold.