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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday addressed the question of whether Democrats will eliminate the legislative filibuster if they take control of the Senate, telling CNN that it's "not a question of if it's going to be gone, it's only when it's going to be gone."

Why it matters: Current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said that "nothing is off the table" if Republicans move ahead with replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election — a threat that likely includes abolishing the Senate's long-standing 60-vote threshold in order to pass sweeping legislation.

  • Multiple Democrats have already come out in favor of the move, though eliminating the rule would significantly reduce the ability of the chamber's minority party to block legislation, be that Republicans or Democrats.
  • Democrats would have to win a simple majority of 51 seats this year to change Senate rules and eliminate the filibuster, or they could claim a simple majority by gaining at least a total of 50 seats and the White House, using the vice president to break tie votes.

Worth noting: In 2013, Reid eliminated the 60-vote threshold for executive branch and federal judiciary appointments, but not Supreme Court nominations — a decision that some critics say allowed President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to confirm a record number of federal judges when they took power.

  • McConnell later extended the so-called "nuclear option" to Supreme Court nominations during Justice Neil Gorsuch's confirmation.

What they're saying: "I think this is going to be a change election," Reid said. "I believe Biden will be elected by a nice margin, Pelosi will build upon her margin that she has in the House and we're going to retake the Senate."

  • "We got a Democratic president. We got Pelosi in the House, and we've got a Democratic majority in the Senate. It's the time to do some really, stunningly important things."
  • "And one thing they're going to have take a look at — I don't want to get too far in the weeds — but when we get rid of the filibuster — the filibuster is not a question of if it's going to be gone, it's only when it's going to be gone."

The big picture: Former President Obama endorsed eliminating the filibuster in July in order to pass voting rights legislation, including ending partisan gerrymandering, making Election Day a federal holiday and automatically registering Americans to vote.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed eliminating it the same day as Obama after first rejecting the idea during the Democratic primary debates in 2o19.

It's unclear where Joe Biden stands on the filibuster. He has yet to say if he would direct his Senate allies to pursue abolishing the rule if elected president with a Democratic majority in the chamber.

  • He told the New York Times in July that it will "depend on how obstreperous they become,” referring to Republicans.

Go deeper: Democrats consider total war if McConnell jams through Supreme Court nominee

Go deeper

Updated Dec 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump slams McConnell for blocking vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) request to hold a vote on a House standalone measure that would boost the size of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person.

Why it matters: President Trump has demanded that the payments be increased, creating a rift between him and Senate GOP leadership ahead of a crucial runoff election in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber. He tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: "Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. "

Updated Dec 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia's GOP senators back $2,000 stimulus checks ahead of runoff

Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Tuesday both came out in favor of increasing direct payments in the coronavirus relief package from $600 to $2,000 per person.

Why it matters: The two Republican senators are on the ballot in a pair of runoffs in Georgia next week that will determine control of the Senate.

Blue Dog Democrats urge Biden to focus on bipartisan priorities

Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46) speaks at a press conference as his fellow Blue Dog Coalition co-chairs, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), stand behind him. Photo: Courtesy of the Blue Dog Coalition

Moderate Democrats in Congress are asking President-elect Joe Biden for classified, bipartisan briefings about the recent Russian cyberattacks on the U.S. and for intel assessments of how China may be seeking to exploit the pandemic.

The big picture: These are among the Blue Dog Coalition's recommendations in a letter to Biden that calls on Democrats to stick to legislation both parties can get behind, around the pandemic, economic recovery, government reforms after the Trump era and holding foreign adversaries accountable for interference.

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