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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 ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line 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 SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn 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 InsleeWashington county warns of at least 17 positive tests after 300-person wedding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by UAE - US records 1 million COVID-19 cases in a week; governors crack down Washington state issues sweeping restrictions to combat coronavirus surge 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 McConnellBiden's climate plans can cut emissions and also be good politics Acting Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on 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 WarrenThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks 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 SandersIn defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere 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 ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly 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.