President Donald Trump has said he’s “open” to a radical change to the Senate’s rules that would end the 60-vote requirement now needed to invoke cloture, which a parliamentary term for ending debate, on most issues. Under the current rules, unless 60 senators agree to end debate, legislation can be filibustered indefinitely without an up-or-down vote, making it virtually impossible to pass legislation without either a huge majority in the Senate for one political party or bipartisan support.
“The filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with,” Trump told Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum in an interview that aired Saturday evening. “We have so many bad concepts in our rules and its forcing bad decisions.”
Trump also called the rule “archaic” and said he’s open to seeing the system change.
“Maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different,” Trump said. “You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions.”
MacCallum then asked Trump to clarify what he’d like to see changed, to which Trump replied, “Well, you look at the voting, you look at the filibuster system. It used to be—you know, I always thought a filibuster, where you stand up and talk all day and somebody else gets up there.”
“You don’t do that anymore,” MacCallum said.
“No, you don’t have to do it anymore,” Trump said. “Today, you say ‘filibuster’ and guys sit home and watch television or whatever they do. I think the filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with, but if you’re going to have a filibuster, let someday stand up for 20 hours and talk and do what they have to do, even if they’re reading comic books to everybody.”
The 60-vote filibuster requirement is not mandated in the Constitution; it’s simply a rule of the Senate. In order for the rules of the Senate, including the 60-vote requirement, to be changed, a two-thirds majority is ordinarily needed. However, only a majority of votes is needed in the Senate, which is controlled by the Republican Party, to change the two-thirds-majority rule, which means if Republicans truly desire to end the 60-vote rule, they can do so without a single Democratic Party vote.