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Joe Biden said at an ABC town hall on Thursday night that he will come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is "handled."

The state of play: Biden said he has "not been a fan" of expanding the court because it would change the court's makeup depending on who the president is. But he signaled he would be "open to considering what happens" if Republicans push through Barrett's confirmation before the election without proper debate in the Senate.

Why it matters: Some congressional Democrats have suggested expanding the court if Senate Republicans confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee during an election year — which they refused to do for former President Obama's nominee in 2016.

What he's saying: Asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos whether he was open to expanding the court if the Senate votes on Barrett's confirmation before Election Day, Biden said: "I'm open to considering what happens from that point on."

  • Pressed on whether voters have a right to know where he stands on the issue, Biden said "they do have a right to know where I stand, and they'll have a right to know before they vote."
  • Biden added, "no matter what answer I gave you, if I say it, that's the headline tomorrow. It won't be about what's going on now: the improper way they're proceeding."

Go deeper

Updated Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Off the Rails

Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

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