by Justin Wise · August 12, 2019
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday called for Congress to abolish the filibuster in all of its forms, arguing the “arcane” procedural rule has become an “unworkable legislative graveyard.”
“The future of our country is sacrificed at the altar of the filibuster,” Reid writes in a New York Times op-ed focused on a rule that allows the minority party to block legislation by requiring 60 votes for the Senate to end debate on a bill.
“Something must change. That is why I am now calling on the Senate to abolish the filibuster in all its forms. And I am calling on candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president to do the same.”
Reid, who served as Senate Majority Leader between 2007 and 2015, argues the upper chamber has become a place “where the most pressing issues facing our country are disregarded.” He adds that the only way a Democratic president can tackle key issues will be if the Senate can curb “Republicans’ ability to stifle the will of the American people.”
“It’s time to allow a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold now required for legislation,” he writes. “When the American people demand change and elect a new Senate, a new majority leader must be able to respond to that call and pass legislation.
Reid goes on to note that legislation addressing issues such as climate change and gun violence has been stalled by the filibuster. He also noted that in 2013 he got rid of it for most presidential appointees.
Republicans in 2017 abolished the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
“In bygone eras, the filibuster was a symbol of the Senate’s famed role as the cooling saucer for legislation and ideas from the more hot-tempered House of Representatives,” Reid writes. “Sadly, we are not living in the same legislative world anymore.”
Reid has been outspoken about issues related to filibuster. He said earlier this month that he’d get rid of the procedural rule if it meant Democrats could properly tackle climate change.
He also predicted the filibuster’s demise, saying that it wasn’t a question of if, but when.
“It is not a question of if,” he told The Daily Beast. “It is a question of when we get rid of the filibuster. It’s gone. It’s gone.”
Democratic leaders have expressed an openness to eliminating the filibuster if they gained a majority in the Senate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) became the first presidential candidate in April to endorse getting rid of it.
“Our first step is to get back the majority, period. Because without it, all will be lost. If we do, we’ll sit down and figure out the best thing to do to get things done, but we have to get things done and nothing is off the table,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in July.
The Hill · by Justin Wise · August 12, 2019