Apparently frustrated by the U.S. Senate's slow action, President Trump wants to change the Senate's voting rules. On Tuesday, the commander-in-chief tweeted that the upper chamber of Congress should use a simple majority voting system, meaning a bill would pass if 51 of the total 100 representatives support a bill. That's how the Senate usually works, but Trump's comments suggest eliminating the possibility of a filibuster.
Trump tweeted, "The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get healthcare and tax cuts approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!"
Filibusters are extended debates sometimes carried out by senators to defeat a bill. In order to end a filibuster, the Senate must invoke cloture, limiting further debate to 30 hours and requiring a three-fifths majority (or 60 votes) for the bill to pass.
The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
One of the most notable filibusters in recent history was on the state level, when Texas Sen. Wendy Davis held the floor for 11 hours in an attempt to kill a bill that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks and imposed medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers. The provision was later passed and signed by former Gov. Rick Perry, but Davis' lengthy filibuster caught the nation's attention.
Based on his tweet, the president seems to believe forbidding filibusters would help the Republican healthcare bill and his proposed tax plan pass quickly, but Senate Republicans already found a way to bypass a filibuster when it comes to health care. Because GOP leadership is attempting to reform health care through a budget reconciliation process, a filibuster isn't possible.
Still, conservative lawmakers (who currently hold 52 Senate seats) are having a hard time agreeing on what exactly the healthcare bill should look like, especially after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the House version found that 23 million Americans will lose insurance by 2026 under the proposed law.
Changing the Senate rules could help move Trump's tax plan along, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in April his party isn't looking to eliminate filibusters, though the party could use a reconciliation process for taxes as well.
Both parties have nixed the filibuster process in certain situations before. Senate Democrats did so for judge and executive branch confirmations in 2013, and Republicans for confirming Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year.