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Three Democratic senators leading the charge on climate change are throwing cold water on an idea some left-leaning presidential hopefuls are backing to eliminate a legislative rule requiring at least 60 out of 100 votes in the Senate to pass most major bills.

Why it matters: Eliminating the rule at issue — the filibuster — would empower political parties controlling the Senate to push through big policy, such as measures on climate change, more easily over the objection of the party not in control.

One level deeper: Many people associate the filibuster with long speeches, but to end those speeches, you need at least 60 votes. This gets arcane quick, but the end result of having the filibuster in place usually means either no big bills get passed in a divided Senate, or you get bills with broader and more bipartisan support. Doing away with it would make it easier to pass bills without broad and bipartisan support because you would need just a simple majority (51 votes).

What we’re hearing: A trio of Democratic senators influential on climate change said at a briefing with reporters on Wednesday that they’re not ready — at least not yet — to back such a move.

“I think we would be unwise to talk about some parliamentary fork in the road that only occurs if we win the Senate and the presidency.”
— Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
“We should win the [climate] debate and deal with the procedural issues when it’s appropriate to deal with the procedural issues.”
— Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
“I don’t think it’s true we must undo the filibuster in order to prevail.”
— Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

The other side: Democratic presidential candidates Jay Inslee, Washington state governor, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have both said they would do away with the filibuster to enact big climate-change policy given most Republicans are not seriously engaging on the issue.

Where it stands: For now, this is the kind of highly speculative “what if” discussion Washington loves. Democrats need to jump through 2 huge hoops in the next election before they can entertain this prospect: Winning the White House and control of the Senate.

The intrigue: The arcane filibuster talk came amid a broader briefing on a carbon tax bill the trio introduced on Wednesday. The measure is unlikely to pass any time soon given opposition to the idea by most Republicans and even some Democrats, but the senators hope to lay the groundwork for more substantive debate in the coming months and years.

Go deeper: How to make energy and climate policy that sticks

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.