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Harry Reid Rejects Calls to Punt on ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

He also said the Senate’s operating procedures will need to change in the new Congress to blunt GOP legislative blockades. But he firmly ruled out eliminating filibusters altogether.

“I think that the rules have been abused and that we’re going to work to change them. We’re not going to do away with the filibuster, but we’re going to make the Senate a more meaningful place,” Reid said. Sources have indicated that Reid may push a rules change that requires Senators with objections to hold the floor if they seek to block an agenda item, a change from the current practice where Senators can anonymously place holds on legislation and nominees.

Asked about potential environmental legislation in the wake of superstorm Sandy, Reid referenced recent severe storms and his experience running the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“Climate change is an extremely important issue for me, and I hope we can address it reasonably at some point,” Reid said.

The Nevada Democrat also addressed one parochial issue — his relationship with home-state colleague Dean Heller (R). Heller won a full Senate term on Tuesday, beating out Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley. Reid’s political apparatus was relentless in attacking Heller, but Reid nonetheless said he expected to be able to work with his colleague over the long term.

Dean Heller and I have been friends for 25 years,” Reid said, noting that Heller served as secretary of state in Nevada when Reid had his tight election battle against Republican John Ensign in 1998. Ensign later won the Senate seat now held by Heller and entered into a nonaggression pact with Reid, working on a variety of home-state issues until his resignation under an ethics cloud last year.

Reid dismissed talk about a riff with Heller over an Internet gambling measure before the elections.

“As far as big blow-ups, that’s so minor in my life,” Reid said.

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