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 ReidWhite House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights 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 SchumerPoll: Majority of voters say more police are needed amid rise in crime America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill 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 InsleeBipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns 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 WarrenAmerica's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Five things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries 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 ButtigiegSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' 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.