Harry Reid ‘not particularly optimistic’ Biden will push to eliminate filibuster

Former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he is “not particularly optimistic” that President Biden will ask Senate Democrats to scrap the upper chamber’s filibuster rule and allow Democrats a direct path to pass his legislation through Congress.

In an interview with The New York Times, the former Senate Democratic leader said that Biden’s preference towards following institutional precedent would likely prevail over against calls from both progressives and Democratic leaders in the House to change the rule.

“Knowing Joe Biden the way I do, he will be very patient and try to continue how the Senate used to be,” Reid told the Times. “I am not particularly optimistic.”

Reid’s prediction comes as the filibuster has become a sticking point in the power sharing agreement Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are trying to work out.

A proposed agreement from McConnell would have required Democrats to agree not to change the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. Schumer called the proposal “unacceptable.”

But with a 50-50 split in the Senate, there is concern among Democrats about whether they will be able to win any Republican support for Biden’s legislative agenda, starting with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that includes another round of direct payments to most Americans.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate’s no. 2 Democrat, suggested Sunday that “of course” his party would consider changing the filibuster rule, which requires most legislation to reach 60 votes to pass the chamber, should Republicans attempt to paralyze the chamber for the first two years of Biden’s presidency.

“The American people want us to take action, action on this pandemic, action on this economy and on a host of other issues, and if this filibuster has become so common in the Senate that we can’t act, that we just sit there helpless, shame on us. Of course we should consider a change in the rule under those circumstances,” Durbin said on “Meet the Press.”

Democrats would need to secure the support of every member of their caucus to change the rule, including members who have already indicated opposition to the idea such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

Tags Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Filibuster Harry Reid Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell

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