While the Democratic National Convention that nominated Joe Biden this week featured an awful lot of Republicans and Democrats are out there shopping a story line that Biden will "revive bipartisanship," former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is telling it like it is, as usual.
“The filibuster is gone,” said Reid, a friend of Biden. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when it’s going to go. […] Next year at this time, it will be gone,” said Reid of the legislative maneuver used to delay debate or block legislation. Asked what he thought changed Biden's mind on this, Reid said, “I don’t know. I talked to him and [advisor Steve] Ricchetti about it. Maybe that helped a little bit. I think, just basically, pragmatism—if he’s going to get anything done as president, [the filibuster] has got to go.” It absolutely does. Particularly if current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains as the Republican leader, but hopefully in the minority. Which means: Winning the Senate back is as critical to saving the nation as winning the White House is.
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Reid could be saying this to nudge all his former colleagues along to accept of reality, but it's not going to take too much pressure to get current Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer there, it appears. He's absolutely ready to make that move, though still couching it in "if necessary" terms.
“We have a moral imperative to the people of America to get a whole lot done if we get the majority, which, God willing, we will, and keep it in the House, and Biden becomes president, and nothing is off the table,” he said Thursday. “We will do what it takes to get this done. I’m hopeful, maybe if [President Donald] Trump goes and [Mitch] McConnell is no longer leader, some Republicans might work with us. But we’re going to have to get it done, whether they work with us or not,” he added.
Some Republicans might work with Democrats, but it's not worth holding your breath over. It's going to take a full-on tsunami to dislodge McConnell in November. As much as Kentucky may dislike him personally, they like his power and just can't break that destructive habit. Democrats need to plan for McConnell to still be in office, and to still be leading his Republicans to continue to resist and destroy what they'll probably consider President Barack Obama’s third term (who, by the way, has also endorsed nuking the filibuster and also might have been the one to tip Biden).
In his eulogy for the incomparable John Lewis last month, Obama said, "Once we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we should keep marching to make it even better." And he listed that agenda: automatic voter registration, including for felons; making voting easier for everyone; statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico; and ending partisan gerrymandering. "And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster—another Jim Crow relic—in order to secure the God-given rights of every American," he said, "then that's what we should do."
As long as McConnell draws breath from the Senate chamber, that’s what it will take.