Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, gestures before the start of a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg) 

Durbin Sees `End of the Senate' If Trump Gets Nuclear Option

(Bloomberg) -- Senator Dick Durbin said allowing Republicans to pass legislation with the slimmest of majorities as President Donald Trump suggested on Sunday “would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers.”

Durbin said on ABC’s “This Week” program it’s important to maintain the 60-vote threshold in the Senate -- rather than a simple majority -- to “acknowledge our respect for the minority” party.

Democrats have been able to use that threshold to block a vote on a spending deal, which has led to a partial government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats have been unable to reach a deal on the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Trump tweeted Sunday that if the “stalemate continues,” Republicans should initiate what’s called the “nuclear option” and eliminate the higher threshold, instituting a majority rule allowing them to move forward on legislation with 51 votes in favor. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t backing Trump’s idea.

“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said.

Durbin said bipartisanship is “all we’ve asked for.”

“Sit down at the table and let us work this out in a bipartisan fashion,” he said.

Democrats believed they had a bipartisan immigration deal with Trump on Friday that included funding for the president’s border wall, Durbin said. But the White House backed off the agreement just two hours later, he said.

“How can you negotiate with the president under those circumstances where he agrees face-to-face to move forward with a certain path and then within two hours calls back and pulls the plug?” Durbin said.

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