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Congress: What is filibuster-proof?

Even if the Democrats don't get to 60 in the Senate, the Washington Post writes that they might be able to obtain a filibuster-proof majority for matters like health-care programs, immigration, judicial nominations, and voting rights for DC. "Democrats are counting on moderate Republicans such as Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who have tilted leftward on issues such as Medicare spending and the Iraq war, to provide the votes to block a filibuster… Other potential swing votes are Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), whose socially liberal views make him a prospective Democratic recruit on spending matters and Obama's judicial nominations, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). …

"Senate Democrats, however, must watch their right flank as they craft more sweeping initiatives. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has supported the Bush White House on many tax and budget issues this decade, and a quartet of Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 – [Mark] Begich, Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Mark R. Warner (Va.) -- all ran as centrists."

The 580,000-square-foot Capitol Visitors Center opens its doors at long last tomorrow. Per the Washington Post: "What began six years ago as a huge, muddy cavity next to the U.S. Capitol and has since consumed thousands of tons of concrete, 400,000 carefully selected hunks of stone, and a million and one other bits of metal, marble and history, at a cost of $621 million, will be officially christened tomorrow. "

Per Politico: "Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, has tapped California Rep. Kevin O. McCarthy as his top deputy, cementing an already fruitful partnership between two rising stars in the party." 

In the wake of a New York Times report Tuesday that outlined Rep. Charlie Rangel's ties to a donor who benefited from the congressman's position on an offshore tax loophole, the Washington Post editorialized this weekend that Rangel should step down from his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee while the matter is under an ethics investigation.

 The Washington Post's Paul Kane notes: "Though they are two votes short of their quest for 60 votes -- with two races still undecided -- Democrats say that regular support from a few Republican moderates will allow them to pass bills that were halted in the current Congress by GOP parliamentary roadblocks. These include health-care programs, immigration revisions and presidential nominations."

When at first you don't succeed… The number of the day from CQ Politics: 'Eighteen races in which the same major-party candidates faced off for the second consecutive election were rated as at least somewhat competitive by CQ Politics. And in 15 of those 18 contests, the same candidate won both elections. In fact, the defeated challenger candidates in a dozen of those races actually lost ground, with the incumbents winning more handily in the second round."

CQ handicaps the selection jockeying in New York between potential candidates to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.