U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd R), flanked by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) (from L), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator John Thune (R-SD), speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican caucus policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington,… REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday Republicans should consider changing Senate rules to make it easier to pass legislation without any Democratic support, as they have already done to get a Supreme Court nominee approved.
Trump called for the so-called "nuclear option" but also said the party could strengthen its hand by winning more Senate seats in the 2018 congressional election.
In a post on Twitter, the president said his fellow Republicans had to acquiesce to Democratic demands in a government spending bill negotiated this week because the party's majority was too slim to win the 60 Senate votes that would have been needed if Democrats had chosen to block the legislation with a filibuster.
Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat U.S. Senate.
"The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%," Trump wrote on Twitter
Both parties signed off on the spending bill to fund the federal government through September to avert a government shutdown, with Republicans and Democrats both claiming some political victories.
In his Twitter message, Trump suggested he would be willing to let U.S. government funding lapse later this year in an effort to pressure Democrats to agree to more of his budget priorities.
"Our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix mess!" he wrote on Twitter.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed through a rule change earlier this month to secure approval of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, through a simple majority.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)