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Schumer on nixing the filibuster: 'Nothing is off the table'

Schumer on nixing the filibuster: 'Nothing is off the table'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIt's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas MORE (D-N.Y.) left the door open on Thursday to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, saying that Democrats would "do what it takes" to enact their agenda if former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era MORE wins the White House in November. 

Schumer, during an interview with SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show," said Democrats would have a "moral imperative" to get a "whole lot done" if Biden wins and Democrats have control of the House and Senate.

"We have a moral imperative to the people of America to get a whole lot done, if we get the majority, which God-willing we will, and keep it in the House, and Biden becomes President, and nothing is off the table," Schumer said.

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"We will do what it takes to get this done. I'm hopeful, maybe if Trump goes and McConnell is no longer leader, some Republicans might work with us. But we're going to have to get it done whether they work with us or not," he added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMaher goes after Manchin: 'Most powerful Republican in the Senate' Supreme Court confounding its partisan critics Why the Democrats need Joe Manchin MORE (R-Ky.).

Schumer was asked about former President Obama's support for nixing the filibuster and the impact the procedural hurdle has on the Senate.

Obama, while delivering a eulogy for the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisGarland vows fight against voting limits that violate law Black Republican advocates his case for CBC membership Manchin insists he supports voting rights — we'll see MORE (D-Ga.) earlier this year, called the filibuster a "Jim Crow relic" that should be gotten rid of in order to pass voting rights legislation. 

A growing number of Senate Democrats have appeared supportive, or at least open, to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster. Democrats, in 2013, got rid of the 60-vote filibuster for most nominations, and Republicans, in 2017, eliminated the same hurdle for Supreme Court nominees. 

Supporters of getting rid of the procedure — which would likely be lowered to a simple majority — argue that without the change, major parts of the Democratic agenda from health care to combating climate change and structural reforms would hit a buzz saw in the Senate because Republicans could filibuster any piece of legislation, requiring that it overcome the 60-vote hurdle to move forward. 

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Both Schumer and Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Overnight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US MORE (D-Ill.), Schumer's No. 2, indicated last year that they were open to the idea, though Schumer — expected to be the majority leader if Democrats get control in November — has said the focus should first be on winning back the Senate.  

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. If Democrats take back the chamber — which would require a net pick up of three seats and the White House or a net gain of four seats for an outright majority — they are still expected to have a relatively slim margin. That means under the current filibuster rules, they would need the support of several GOP senators in order to get legislation passed. 

If Democrats will be able to use the "nuclear option" to change the rules with only a simple majority remains uncertain, though they'll likely face intense pressure from outside activists to do so.

At least two senators — Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinMaher goes after Manchin: 'Most powerful Republican in the Senate' It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-W.Va.) and Angus KingAngus KingProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing Pentagon chief: Military has already started 'over-the-horizon' operations in Afghanistan MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats— have said they are opposed to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster. 

The New York Times, citing Democratic senators who have spoken to Schumer, also described the Senate Democratic leader as "reluctant" to get rid of it but that he is polling members of the caucus.