Trump Casts Doubt on GOP Clearing 60-Vote Hurdle in Senate on Tax Bill

Criticizes UK officials after terror attack on London

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Senate Republicans at the East Room of the White House on Tuesday to discuss the GOP health care bill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Senate Republicans at the East Room of the White House on Tuesday to discuss the GOP health care bill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Posted September 15, 2017 at 7:47am

President Donald Trump on Friday declared Senate Republicans “can’t get” 60 votes in the Senate and again urged GOP leaders to alter rules for major legislation.

He followed his Twitter rant against Senate Republicans with his first comments on Friday’s terrorist attack in London to criticize British security officials.

Trump has urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change the chamber’s rules so legislation can be passed with 51 votes before, something the Kentucky Republican and his caucus oppose. But Friday morning’s tweet came as Trump is openly courting Democratic votes, eager to pass a tax bill with Democratic support.

He will need at least eight Senate Democrats to do, and his latest railing against the 60-vote rule casts new doubt on whether he can get enough Democrats on the coming tax measure.

The president called the legislative filibuster rule “ridiculous,” and tweeted this about Senate Republicans’ ability to get to 60: “Can’t get votes, END NOW!”

There is no evidence McConnell intends to change the rules, however. And Trump, as he always does when calling for the change, did not mention a GOP health care bill failed to get 51 Republicans earlier this year when it died in the Senate.

On the tax bill, leading Republicans on Capitol Hill want the White House to agree to allow it to move through both chambers under reconciliation rules, meaning it would need only 51 votes in the Senate.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, for instance, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it would be unwise for Republicans not to use the budget reconciliation process for a tax overhaul.

“If we have a process that allows us for avoiding filibusters, shame on us for not using that process,” he said.

Trump followed his social media post about the Senate’s rules with a series of tweets about the latest apparent terrorist attack in London.

As officials there said at least 18 were injured after a morning explosion at Parsons Green train station in Southwest London, Trump tweeted that the apparent bombers were “in the sights” of security officials there, adding those officials — and those in the U.S. — “must be proactive!”

He called the bomber “a loser terrorist,” adding “these are sick and demented people.” But he did not use three words to describe them — “radical Islamic terrorism” — that were a big part of his 2016 presidential campaign, as he criticized then-President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for not using the term.

Past American presidents have been quick to express condolences and offer Washington’s full assistance when allies suffered attacks under their watch. Trump did none of that on Friday morning.

Instead, he used the attack to make the case for the initial version of an executive order banning individuals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. He wrote the entry ban “should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!’

He also called for a “much tougher” counterterrorism approach, especially in cyberspace, which groups like the Islamic State use to recruit new operatives. “The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!” the commander in chief tweeted.

Trump also called for the U.S. and its allies to get “nasty” in their fight against ISIS and other violent extremist groups, while boasting — without providing evidence — that his administration in just eight months has weakened the Islamic State more than the Obama administration did in nearly a decade.

— Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.