As Congress continues to face what has been called as unprecedented gridlock in the Senate, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the New York Times and called for abolishing the legislative tactic known as the filibuster.
Harry Reid offered an op-ed in the New York Times and argued that the filibuster has killed legislation that would have addressed gun violence, climate change, and immigration.
Reid said that if a future Democratic president wants to tackle the major issues of the day, then they have to have the ability to do so, and that means they must curtail Republicans attempt at stifling the will of the American people. Reid is calling for only a simple majority vote instead of the currently needed 60-vote threshold for legislation.
Senators continue to alter legislative rules
Over the past years, the U.S. Senate has rewritten legislative rules. In 2013, Speaker Reid changed the rules in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for presidential appointees. In 2017, Republicans fired back by getting rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Just this spring, Republicans instituted the ‘nuclear option’ to change Senate rules, which speeded up the confirmation of President Trump’s executive branch nominees.
The future of the filibuster has been a topic of discussion on the 2020 campaign trail. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has said that everything is on the table when it comes to axing the filibuster. However, Senator Cory Booker wants to keep the filibuster in place. Chuck Schumer is in favor of eliminating the filibuster if the Democrats take back the Senate in 2020.
The filibuster has become a Senate symbol and nominee
While Reid acknowledges that the filibuster is a symbol of the Senate’s example of being more tempered than the House and of the bipartisan relationships between senators. In the op-ed Reid said that the Senate has become more gridlocked and polarizing than ever.
Reid has predicted the end of the filibuster, saying it’s not a matter of if, but of when. The only way Democrats can get rid of the filibuster is by winning back the Senate. Reid said that Republicans have used the filibuster to pass their unpopular policies and that obstruction benefits them politically and that basic Senate business has now been affected by the filibuster and the Republicans gridlock and obstruction.
Reid points to the work that could have been done under President Obama but was halted by the filibuster including a pathway citizenship through the Dream Act, health care reform and the American Jobs Act. The filibuster kept Congress from working at strengthening the economy and fixing income inequality.