Harry Reid: Democrats should scrap filibuster to battle climate change if they retake Senate

Harry Reid: Democrats should scrap filibuster to battle climate change if they retake Senate

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidReid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump Harry Reid predicts Trump, unlike Clinton, won't become more popular because of impeachment Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D-Nev.) on Thursday called for Democrats to make tackling the climate crisis a priority, even if it means scrapping the Senate filibuster.

“The answer is yes,” Reid told The Daily Beast, when asked if he would get rid of the tactic requiring 60 votes for legislation to be brought to the floor if it allowed Democrats to pass a bill addressing the climate crisis. “[T]he No. 1 priority is climate change. There’s nothing that affects my children, grandchildren and their children, right now, more than climate."

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Reid predicted that the death of the filibuster for legislation is inevitable.

“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.”

Debate over the filibuster has emerged as a divisive issue in the 2020 Democratic primary, and some leaders in the Senate are expressing an openness to scrapping the rule. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters last month that while his first focus is winning back the majority, "nothing is off the table," if his party does.

White House hopeful, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert Inslee2020 Presidential Candidates Warren environmental justice plan focuses third of climate investment on disadvantaged communities Poll: Warren closing in on Biden's lead with climate-focused voters MORE (D) has specifically brought up getting rid of the filibuster to ensure comprehensive climate change initiatives can pass the Senate during the presidential debates.

Inslee touted Reid’s position on the filibuster in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Majority Leader Harry Reid is right: Reid understands that the climate crisis must be the top priority of the next President, and that we must end the filibuster to defeat this beast,” he said. "Harry Reid knows [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Mattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria MORE. He knows we can't sit down to tea with the self-proclaimed 'grim reaper' to pass bold climate legislation the science demands.”

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Warren enters crucial debate with big momentum MORE (D-Mass.) is the only top-tier Democratic candidate who has specifically endorsed getting rid of the filibuster. 

Reid reiterated to The Daily Beast that he will not endorse a candidate until after the Nevada caucus. He has previously spoken positively of Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption MORE (I-Vt.).

The former senator discussed other structural reforms with The Daily Beast.

On abolishing the Electoral College, which some candidates like South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' MORE (D) have championed, Reid said that it "is unfair in many instances."

"I don’t know how you’re going to change it. I just don’t know how,” he said.  

He also touched on term limits for court appointments.

“Maybe I have no basis for talking about this because I’m in my seventies — in my eighties before too long. I have never favored term limits,” Reid said.

“But when the Constitution was written, no one ever expected judges to live to be 80 years old. Now they’re going into their nineties in some places around the federal court system. So I think that we have to jiggle that around a little bit. I think that’s something we need.”

Updated 2:48 p.m.