Trump calls for 'nuclear option' to end shutdown, McConnell signals no

President Trump suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans change chamber rules -- and resort to the “nuclear option” -- so that they can pass a long-term budget with a simple, 51-vote majority, amid their funding stalemate with Democrats that has resulted in a government shutdown.

The standoff between the parties primarily centers on Democrats saying that any spending bill that keeps the government fully operational must include protection for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. And they have so far failed to provide the Senate’s 51 Republicans with enough votes to cross the chamber’s 60-vote threshold to end a Democrat-led filibuster and pass the spending bill.

“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border,” Trump tweeted Sunday, the second day of the shutdown. “The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no” continuing spending resolution.  

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is opposed to taking Trump’s advice and changing the rules -- as he did this past summer when Trump suggested McConnell use the so-called nuclear option to end a Democratic filibuster so Republicans could repeal and replace ObamaCare.

“The Senate Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” a McConnell spokeswoman told Fox News on Sunday.

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, at about the same time, was critical on “Fox News Sunday” of Trump’s tweet, including its suggestion about the nuclear option, considering the 60-vote threshold has for decades provided the Senate’s minority party with some check on the majority party’s power.

“This is another example of President Trump throwing a tweet in the middle of bi-partisan negotiations that are making progress,” Coons said. “I think Senator McConnell, the majority leader, in the end will have much more say about how the Senate is run than the president should.”

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.