House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" Sunday that the Senate should change its rules to allow for easier passage of legislation.
Currently, the Senate’s rules allow for a senator to filibuster, or prevent the chamber from acting or voting on a bill or other measure. Sixty senators have to vote in favor of overcoming the filibuster to end the delay. Senate Democrats eliminated the use of the filibuster for most presidential nominations in November 2013, in a move termed the “nuclear option.” But the filibuster is still in place for legislation.
When asked whether the Senate should “go nuclear” when it comes to a bill that would stop the White House from carrying out its 2014 executive actions on immigration, McCarthy said in an exclusive interview that the Senate rules are flawed.
“That's not nuclear, when 57 percent of the American representation says [the bill is] wrong. That's not in the Constitution. I think they should change the rules,” McCarthy said, referring to the 57 senators who voted to proceed on the bill. The measure failed because it did not achieve the required 60 votes.
The House approved a one-week extension of Homeland Security funding Friday night. The vote came after a moment of embarrassment for House Republican leadership. Fifty-two Republicans joined nearly every Democrat in rejecting a three-week extension of Homeland Security funding.
“We have difference of opinion in strategy and tactics. But in principle, we are united,” McCarthy said when asked about fissures within House Republicans. “We're united in the principle there's a right way and wrong way to legislate.”
McCarthy said Senate Democrats are to blame for taking a potential Department of Homeland Security shutdown to the brink Friday night.
“Five weeks ago, because we do not believe in cliffs, we took this issue up. It was the Senate Democrats who not only voted against the bill; [they] denied the Senate Republicans from even bringing it up when seven Senate Democrats would be opposed to it,” the House Majority Leader said. “So they created the cliff [and] moved a bill at the last moment. And what was the House action? Let's go to conference.”
The Senate passed a bill on Friday that funds the Department of Homeland Security until the end of September that did not include overturn the president's controversial immigration executive action. McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican leader in the House, said that bill cannot pass the House.
“We have sent that bill back to the Senate. The Democrats had a motion to instruct, and it failed on the floor. So that answers the question right now,” he said. “As of now, no, it cannot.”
McCarthy, when asked if Homeland Security will shut down in five days, said, “The best thing for the American public is that we do our job. That Washington changes. That the Senate and the House get together and fix their differences, and find common ground.”
“Okay, but this is not the reality we live in. How are you going to fund this thing in five days?” Chuck Todd responded.
"I will be in that room and I will help solve that problem," McCarthy responded. "All we need is Harry Reid to say the same thing, and this can all go away and be solved."