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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 ReidWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Harry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' The Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters 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 SchumerTop academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act NY Times beclowns itself by normalizing court-packing 'to balance the conservative majority' The first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally 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 Inslee OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | House GOP's planned environmental bills drop Democratic priorities | Advocates optimistic Biden infrastructure plan is a step toward sustainability The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Inslee signs bill restoring voting rights to parolees in Washington state 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 McConnellTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Senate GOP opens door to earmarks McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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 WarrenOn The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House 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 SandersAmazon workers have spoken — are progressives listening? What's really behind Joe Biden's far-left swing? It's time to declare a national climate emergency 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 ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Senate Republicans label Biden infrastructure plan a 'slush fund' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage 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.