McConnell all but rules out filibuster change

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday all but ruled out the possibility of a change to the filibuster rule this year.

McConnell made his comment in an interview with The Hill one day after President Trump said he wants Senate Republicans to strip Democrats of the power to filibuster Supreme Court nominees if they attempt to block his pick.

“Senate rules are a matter for the Senate and a lot of other people have opinions,” McConnell said.

“We’ve already adopted the rules for this Congress at the beginning of the year. Basically we didn’t adopt any because in the Senate rules are permanent, unlike the House which every two year adopts a new set of rules. We don’t.”

ADVERTISEMENT
McConnell has argued throughout his Senate career that the chamber’s rules can only be modified with a two-thirds vote, a striking contrast from his predecessor, former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor GOP in uncharted territory rolling back rules through resolutions MORE (D-Nev.), who triggered the nuclear-option in 2013 to shield executive branch and most judicial nominees from filibusters.

“It takes 67 votes to change the rules in the Senate. We saw one rather conspicuous exception to that a few years ago but no we don’t have any current plans on the rules,” he said.

Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity Thursday that he wants McConnell to use the nuclear option — a highly controversial procedural tactic — to strip the Democrats’ ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees if they try to keep late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat vacant.

McConnell has been pressed repeatedly about changing the filibuster rule for the Supreme Court and has always expressed the opinion that Trump’s nominee will be confirmed.

“I’m confident we’ll get a Supreme Court nominees confirmed. I expect an outstanding nominee sometime soon,” he told Fox News Sunday recently.

“I think it’s noteworthy to look at how the Republican minority handled Bill ClintonBill ClintonTop Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Bill Clinton hits Trump, tax reform plan in Georgetown speech The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE in his first administration. Both of his first two nominees, Ginsberg and Breyer, no filibuster,” he added in reference to liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

House conservatives have also pressed McConnell to change the rules to prohibit filibusters against legislation, as well.

Trump has said he will announce his Supreme Court choice on Thursday.