Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney indicated Tuesday that one way to get back to passing regular spending bills is to end the legislative filibuster for spending bills, to get around the current 60-vote threshold there.
Mulvaney stopped short of saying he or other officials are pushing for that dramatic change to Senate rules, but did say the idea has been discussed over the last few years, and said it would be used to solve the problem.
"The question, would it be easier, would the results be even better, would there be less sort of animosity?" Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. "Maybe."
"I know that there has been some discussion on the Hill over the course of the last couple of years for limiting the filibuster when it comes to appropriations bills," he added.
Mulvaney said the current 60-vote threshold has held up spending bills over the last several years, and forced lawmakers to pass continuing resolutions. Those bills impose the same spending level as the prior year, and Republicans have said they prevent Congress from properly managing the federal government.
"One of the reasons we're here ... is the appropriations process is broken," he said. "And the way it used to work and is supposed to work of the House passing an appropriations bill on a topic ... the Senate passing a bill on the same thing, and going to conference committee, then putting that bill on the desk for the president."
"That, I don't think, has functioned in the last decade," Mulvaney added.
"We want to go back to that process, but the reason we can't get back to that process is because the Senate is requiring 60 votes on every single appropriations bill," he said. "And that is forcing this discussion about continuing resolutions, which are a bad way to run the government, and is forcing a discussion about shutdowns, which is simply not productive."
The Senate has been trending toward eliminating the filibuster over the last few years.
In 2013, Senate Democrats ended the legislative filibuster for Executive Branch nominees, which allowed President Obama to get his nominees confirmed with just 51 votes, instead of 60.
And in April, Senate Republicans made the same change for Supreme Court nominees in order to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch.