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CNN anchor Anderson Cooper prepares to moderate a CNN-sponsored Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2015. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that no more than 20 candidates will participate in the first two primary debates over two consecutive nights this summer, and that the format will require candidates to meet grassroots fundraising or polling thresholds.

Details: To qualify, candidates need to register at least 1% of support in at least three state or national polls approved by the party, or have received donations from at least 65,000 people, including a minimum of 200 people in 20 states. NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are sponsoring the first debate in June, followed by CNN-sponsored debates in July. The events will be broadcast weeknights on prime time with no more than 10 candidates onstage at a time.

Why it matters: The new demands are largely in response to criticism leveled against the Democratic party during the 2016 campaign, when Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley accused the party’s leadership of giving Hillary Clinton an unfair advantage by limiting the number of debates.

"I am committed to running an open and transparent primary process. ... We also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before.”
— DNC Chairman Tom Perez in a statement

The backdrop: Perez had previously announced that the party will host at least 12 debates over primary season, and promised to enact rules to give all candidates a fair shot for voters' attention.

  • 6 debates will be held this year with another 6 planned for 2020 in early voting states including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Go deeper: 2020 presidential election: Track which candidates are running

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.