WASHINGTON – Former Senate leader Harry Reid says if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate, Joe Biden should take “no more than three weeks” to test bipartisanship before ending the filibuster so Democrats can overcome what they call Republican obstruction and pass bills.
The retired Nevada Democrat told The Associated Press in an interview that he understands Biden wants to work with Republicans, as the former vice president and Delaware senator has in the past. But Reid said there is just too much that needs to be done in the country to wait around trying to reach agreements under the decades-old Senate practice of requiring 60 votes to advance legislation.
"Biden — who wants always to get along with people — I understand that,” Reid said by telephone from Nevada.
“We should give the Republicans a little bit of time, to see if they’re going to work with him,” he said. "But the time’s going to come when he’s going to have to move in and get rid of the filibuster.”
Asked how long Biden should wait it out before changing the rules, Reid said: “No more than three weeks.”
The 80-year-old Reid, who retired in 2017, has been among the most high-level political voices in favor of ending the 60-vote threshold for legislation. Critics of the filibuster argue it has outlived its purpose in the partisan era and only serves to grind business to a halt.
From afar, the onetime majority leader has made his views known before but rarely has he suggested a deadline for action. It is both a warning sign and road map for senators contemplating a 2021 agenda with a potentially new power dynamic in Washington after the election.
The 100-member Senate, where Republicans now hold a 53-47 edge, is expected to remain narrowly divided after the Nov. 3 election, regardless of which party wins control, making the 60-vote tally tough to reach.