Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week called for an end to the legislative filibuster in the U.S. Senate and said Democrats vying for the White House should support eliminating it as well.
Mr. Reid said the Senate today has become “an unworkable legislative graveyard.”
“Republicans over the past decade — knowing their policies are unpopular and that obstruction benefits them politically — perfected and increased the gratuitous use of the filibuster,” he wrote in a piece in The New York Times published on Monday.
Mr. Reid called on the Senate to abandon the filibuster “in all its forms,” “[a]nd I am calling on candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president to do the same.”
“If a Democratic president wants to tackle the most important issues facing our country, then he or she must have the ability to do so — and that means curtailing Republicans’ ability to stifle the will of the American people,” the Nevada Democrat wrote. “It’s time to allow a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold now required for legislation.”
Mr. Reid said the filibuster is helping thwart action on issues like climate change, immigration and guns.
He recalled his own history of muscling through a rules change in 2013 to end the filibuster for many presidential nominees. When Republicans controlled the Senate in 2017, they changed the rules to allow for a simple majority vote on Supreme Court nominees.
Some Democratic activists, using similar logic as Mr. Reid, say 2020 presidential contenders can’t be serious about pushing through a sweeping agenda on issues like health care and climate change if they support maintaining the legislative filibuster.
Some presidential contenders have called to abolish it outright, though others such as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont have been more hesitant.