Schumer won't rule out killing filibuster

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community Senate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills MORE (D-N.Y.) at a press conference on Thursday didn’t rule out getting rid of the filibuster if Democrats take back the Senate majority.

“Our focus should be on winning the majority and we’ll have a nice caucus of more than 50 Democrats and we’ll decide what to do,” Schumer said Thursday in response to a question about the filibuster. 

Legislation must win 60 votes to break a filibuster. The Senate has changed its rules in the past decade, however, to remove that obstacle on some nominations.

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Schumer said as recently as October that Democrats would consider restoring the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees — something Republicans eliminated in President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE’s first year in office to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch.

But on Thursday, he declined to stand by that statement, telling reporters that Democrats will examine rules changes if they win back the majority. 

Asked about his statement in October, Schumer said, “you can think about a whole lot of things, I’ve taken no position on any of these.” 

Schumer is under pressure from the left as several Democrats running for president, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders denies tweet about corporate Democrats was dig at Warren Sanders denies tweet about corporate Democrats was dig at Warren Warren: 'On Juneteenth and every day: Black lives matter' MORE (Mass.) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Energy: Trump EPA finalizes rule to kill Obama climate plan | Trump officials delayed releasing docs on Yellowstone superintendent's firing | Democrats probe oil companies' role in fuel rule rollback Overnight Energy: Trump EPA finalizes rule to kill Obama climate plan | Trump officials delayed releasing docs on Yellowstone superintendent's firing | Democrats probe oil companies' role in fuel rule rollback Inslee knocks carbon move: Trump's 'undying loyalty to coal CEOs is literally killing Americans' MORE (D), have called for eliminating the filibuster. 

Asked why he refused to defend the 60-vote requirement for bringing legislation to a final vote, which many lawmakers consider an essential institution of the Senate, Schumer said, “I’ve said what I’m going to say on that issue.”

It’s a tacit acknowledgement of the support that has swelled among liberals for reducing the threshold for passing major legislation through the upper chamber from 60 votes to 51 votes. 

Ezra Levin, the co-founder of Indivisible, a liberal advocacy group, told The Associated Press last month that the filibuster needs to be scrapped if Democrats take back control of the White House and Senate. 

Otherwise, he said ambitious efforts to reform health care and reduce global warming emissions will hit a wall. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview MORE (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called nuclear option in 2013 to take away the power of Republicans to filibuster then-President Obama’s executive branch and judicial nominees. The move was precipitated by a GOP blockade of Obama’s picks to sit on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most powerful court in the nation.

Schumer, however, said in 2017 that he regretted Reid’s action. 

“I argued against it at the time. I said both for the Supreme Court and Cabinet [it] should be 60 because on such important positions there should be some degree of bipartisanship,” he told CNN in January 2017.

Reid, shortly before retiring, said he didn’t regret getting rid of the filibuster for Cabinet and appellate court nominees and predicted the filibuster would be eliminated altogether some day.