Most pieces of legislation only require a majority of votes (51) to pass in the Senate. However, long standing Senate rules do dictate that certain actions of pieces of legislation require 60 votes to pass. This includes confirmations and important budget bills, like the recent stop-gap bill. Republicans only have 52 seats in the Senate so even though they are the majority party, Democrats can still block or defeat those procedures requiring 60 votes. President Trump has been suggesting the long standing Senate rules be changed to just allow a majority vote on everything.
As a gridlocked Congress threatens to stall the legislative promises that catapulted him to office, President Trump has raised hackles on the Hill by suggesting longstanding Senate rules simply be scrapped to cripple Democratic opposition.
Trump has twice in the past week railed against “archaic” Senate procedures – first in an interview with Fox News and then again on Twitter – seeming to suggest the legislative filibuster be ended to take advantage of Republicans’ control of Congress.
“And 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 on “The First 100 Days” on Friday. “You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you’re really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.”
While changing Senate rules could give Republicans a temporary boost of control in the Senate, it could also come back to haunt them when and if Democrats gain more than 50 seats but fewer than 60. Republicans would then have no leverage to stop Democrats from doing whatever they want. That’s the reason the rules exist and personally, I believe changing them now is not worth the future risk.