Harry Reid Claims Republicans Have 'Decimated' Federal Government

Harry Reid / Getty Images
April 25, 2018

Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) lambasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Republicans for having "decimated" balance in the federal government.

Reid, who served as the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate between 2005-2015, compared Republicans in Congress to the "limpest waffle you've ever seen" and claimed they've done "everything they can" to weaken the checks and balances Congress and the judiciary have over the president, according to an interview conducted by NBC's Heidi Przybyla.

"With the Republicans, I’m not mad, I’m just terribly disappointed in what they’ve done to the institution," Reid said. "I believe the federal government has been so harmed, the legislative branch has been decimated, judicial decimated, checks and balances sliding out the door."

The former senator claimed he has remained silent until now so as not to give the opinion that he was frustrated with being locked out of a political environment he had dominated for so long.

"I’ve tried to not jump on the bandwagon [of] sour grapes," he said.

During the interview, Reid also opined on the diminished state of bipartisanship in the era of President Donald Trump. He expressed his belief that the Senate was "irreparably damaged" and was losing its standing as the nation's deliberative body where bipartisanship was the key to legislative success.

Reid failed to take responsibility for any impact he may have had on decimating the Senate's long-held traditions.

In 2013, Reid, then the Senate majority leader, pushed through a controversial rule change that weakened the filibuster in an effort to make it easier for the Obama administration to receive the approval of its nominees. The change reduced the threshold, from 60 votes to 51, executive and judicial nominees had to reach for confirmation. Not helping the matter was the fact that the change was approved on a near-party-line vote, with the entire GOP caucus and three moderate Democrats voting in opposition.

Academics have labeled Reid's action in weakening the filibuster as a prime reason for the increased polarization of the Senate.

Przybyla told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday that she asked Reid about the precedent he set in "blowing up the filibuster."

She said Reid wanted her to "tell everyone" that he did what he did because Democrats "had no choice."  In describing Reid's reasoning, Przybyla said "there was an unprecedented blockade of Obama nominees ... it was a risk to the presidency."

MSNBC contributor John Podhoretz disagreed with the notion there was anything "unprecedented" about the circumstances.

"That's total nonsense. Every presidency faces a moment in its time in which an election is coming up and all the judicial nominations are held up. That is a thing that happens. It happened in 1991 to George H. W. Bush. It happened– This is what happens," said Podhoretz, editor of Commentary and contributing editor of the Weekly Standard.

"Right," host Joe Scharborough said.

"The notion that there was something that was unprecedented is just astonishingly false," Podhoretz added.