Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday called for the elimination of the filibuster in a New York Times op-ed declaring the “arcane” rule is turning the legislative body into a “graveyard.”
“The Senate is now a place where the most pressing issues facing our country are disregarded, along with the will of the American people overwhelmingly calling for action,” he wrote. “The future of our country is sacrificed at the altar of the filibuster.”
Reid, who has implored Democrats to put the issue at the top of their agenda, demanded that each of the party’s presidential candidates commit to scrapping the 60-vote threshold for ending debate on legislation.
“Something must change,” Reid said. “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.”
He argued that it has now become the minimum requirement to even advance a bill. To Reid, that’s “a far cry from what the framers intended.”
“They created the Senate as a majority-rule body, where both sides could have their say at length — but at the end of the day, bills would pass or fail on a simple majority vote. In their vision, debate was supposed to inform and enrich the process, not be exploited as a mechanism to grind it to a halt.”
Three key issues ― climate change, gun violence and immigration ― have yet to see meaningful legislative action, Reid noted, all because of the filibuster.
Last week, Reid told The Daily Beast he was sure that the rule would be abolished, he just wasn’t sure when.
“It is not a question of if,” he said. “It is a question of when we get rid of the filibuster. It’s gone.”
However, 2020 Democrats haven’t offered a unified vision on the fate of the filibuster. In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) publicly backed eliminating the rule, stating that “in recent years, it’s been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything.”
Conversely, in January, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told Politico, “We should not be doing anything to mess with the strength of the filibuster. It’s one of the distinguishing factors of this body.”
In March, he backpedaled on his opposition, telling “Pod Save America” in an interview, “that door is not closed.”
For Reid, the answer is clear as he contends in his op-ed that the “era of obstruction and inaction must come to an end.”
“It’s time for the Senate to start working again.”
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