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Joe Biden's Biggest Challenges As President

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Finding, detaining and trying the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol and Congress in an effort to stop the counting of electoral votes, cementing Joe Biden's presidential win, is proving to be a massive undertaking. Authorities have charged dozens so far. The acting U.S. attorney of the District of Columbia says the number may reach into the hundreds when all is said and done for offenses ranging from serious to national-security serious. We'll hear from him in the next quarter hour. The task facing Joe Biden is also massive.

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JOE BIDEN: The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: House Democrats want to start by impeaching Donald Trump again, this time for fomenting the chaos that took five lives, defiled the seat of the U.S. legislature and left America and the world stunned. Others urged caution, saying that such a political process may end with deeper political divisions in this country. Here's Democrat Harry Reid, former majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

HARRY REID: I have no problem with Nancy Pelosi moving forward on impeachment resolution. He'll be impeached but not convicted. But this will be the first time in the history of the country that a one-term president has been impeached twice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the concerns is, of course, that it may delay the Biden agenda because impeachments take time. Last time a Democrat came in with the ability to enact Democratic priorities, of course, as Barack Obama. And you and Nancy Pelosi began with the Affordable Care Act, and that became a resistance rallying cry for Republicans. Is there anything you think President Biden and the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi can do this time that will get Republicans on board? - because at the end of the day, yes, Democrats have control, but it is a very slim majority.

REID: The slim majority is sure better than a heavy minority. So I am confident that the agenda of President-elect Biden will be able to move forward with some rapidity.

Now, the Republicans are going to have to make a choice. As I have written, the filibusters - it's not a question if it's going to be gone. It's a question when it's going to be gone. You can't have a Democratic elected body that takes 60% of the vote to get everything done. And what has happened in the Republican Senate led by Senator McConnell is the Senate is nothing more than a manufacturing facility for judges - do nothing else. They don't do amendments. They don't do any type of legislation.

And I think that Joe Biden, who is a patient man, served long time in the Senate - he tells me every time I talk to him, don't forget, I'm a Senate guy. And I know he's a Senate guy, but he also understands the administration, having been vice president. If the Republicans are going to be as obstinate as they have been in the past, they better be very careful 'cause the American people are watching them. And if that doesn't work well, then there's going to have - be something done to maybe get rid of the filibuster rule. But that's up to the president and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Senator Reid, 147 Republicans - eight senators and 139 representatives - voted to overturn the results of an election that was free and fair, and that was after the Capitol had been sacked. Do you think that this is a protest that got out of control or that this is a deep-seated risk to democracy that is being led by one party?

REID: Now, first of all, understand I believe in a strong two-party system. What has happened, though, to the Republican Party that I so respected over the years - it has become the party of Donald Trump and is a party that has lost its soul. The brand of the Republican Party today has been diminished significantly. And so I think that it's going to be difficult for the Republicans to be as obstinate as they have been. And they better be very careful because the American people want to get something done.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am curious, though, because over 70 million people voted for President Donald Trump. Part of what motivated this mob to come to Washington, D.C., was fealty towards him. Where does that leave our democracy? Are you not concerned about the state of where we are right now?

REID: Donald Trump, January 20, is going to walk out of his office into quicksand. He is someone who has held - all these suits going - sexual assault have been held off because he's president. He owes money. He's in deep financial trouble. Donald Trump is fading fast. His star is not as bright as it was a few days ago.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: By that, do you mean that you think his grip on the Republican Party and, by extension, the Republican base will pass?

REID: Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party is already significantly lessened. He no longer will be the Republican Party. They have to rebuild themselves. They're talking about doing it. I believe in a strong two-party system, and a Republican Party cannot be strong led by Donald Trump. It's a terrible example to set for young people.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So do you think it is futile for Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reach out to the Republicans in these two years?

REID: Of course not. I've been there. I've done that. The way you get things done in Congress is to compromise. Legislation is the art of compromise. And Chuck Schumer understands that totally, as does Speaker Pelosi. You never get exactly what you want. All the bills that I passed in Congress - not a single one wound up the way that I introduced it. You had to make changes in them. That's the way it is. That's good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Former Senator Harry Reid.

Senator, thank you very much.

REID: You're sure welcome. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.