MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Sen. Luther Strange reversed course Tuesday and sided with President Donald Trump in seeking to change Senate rules to make it easier for Republicans to push through legislative priorities.
The Republican sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking to get rid of the Senate filibuster rule that requires 60 votes, eight more seats than Republicans currently hold, to stop a filibuster. He asked for his name to be withdrawn from an April letter he signed seeking to maintain the threshold.
Trump has called for an end to the 60-vote rule, saying few bills will pass because it requires cooperation from at least a few Democrats. However, one GOP priority — repealing the Affordable Care Act — has failed because Republicans couldn’t muster enough votes within their own ranks.
Strange has sought to align himself with Trump, who endorsed him last month, as he tries to hold on to the Senate seat that previously belonged to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Strange is headed into a Sept 26 GOP runoff with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore finished first in the initial round of voting. Moore’s campaign chairman on Tuesday criticized Strange’s action as a transparent political calculation.
In the Tuesday letter to McConnell, Strange acknowledged his past support, but said he had since become disappointed that some colleagues are unwilling to move the “priorities of President Donald J. Trump forward.” He said the rules should be changed to allow a majority to end debate.
“Until this is accomplished, the ability to build a wall on our southern border, defund Planned Parenthood, give the American people tax relief and any number of other important issues will continue to be difficult, if not impossible,” Strange wrote.
Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead sent out a statement saying that Strange reversed course only in the face of a tight election.
“This is a blatant flip flop that career politicians do when they’re in trouble,” Armistead said.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who finished third behind Strange in the August primary, had repeatedly criticized Strange’s support for the filibuster rule saying that the threshold would make it more difficult to pass Trump’s agenda.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.