Senate

Carper comes out in support of nixing filibuster on voting rights

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced on Thursday that he supports nixing the filibuster on voting rights legislation, marking the latest Senate Democrat to back changing the upper chamber’s rules. 

“I do not come to this decision lightly, but it has become clear to me that if the filibuster is standing in the way of protecting our democracy then the filibuster isn’t working for our democracy,” Carper said in a statement.

“No barrier – not even the filibuster – should stand in the way of our sacred obligation to protect our democracy,” he added.

Carper’s statement comes a day after Republicans blocked Democrats from taking up legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Republicans have also blocked more sweeping election reform bills this year.

Currently, most legislation requires 60 votes, meaning the support of at least 10 GOP senators, to be brought up for debate on the Senate floor. 

“I cannot look the other way if total obstruction continues as it did yesterday with this bipartisan legislation,” Carper said.

Outside groups have pushed Democrats for months to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster or reform it for certain bills. And Senate Democrats are increasingly supportive of nixing the filibuster for voting rights legislation by creating a “carve-out” from the Senate rules, while keeping the 60-vote hurdle in place for other bills. 

Carper is a close ally of President Biden, who suggested during a CNN town hall last month that he was open to changing the filibuster for voting rights.

But Democrats don’t currently have the votes within the caucus to nix the filibuster for voting rights legislation or get rid of the 60-vote hurdle altogether. 

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are both opposed to getting rid of the filibuster, and Manchin has specifically said he doesn’t support the idea of a carve-out from the Senate rule for specific issues. 

To change the Senate’s legislative filibuster, Democrats would need total unity from all 50 of their members.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hinted at filibuster reform, without directly mentioning the Senate rule, during a floor speech on Wednesday. 

“Just because Republicans will not join us doesn’t mean Democrats will stop fighting. This is too important. We will continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward, even if it means going it alone,” Schumer said. 

Schumer also met on Wednesday with Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and “strategized” with them about having “family discussions” within the caucus about “specific ways to ‘restore the Senate’ ” to find a path forward on voting rights legislation, a senior Democratic aide told The Hill.

Tags Angus King Charles Schumer filibuster carve out filibuster reform Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Nuclear option Senate filibuster Tim Kaine Tom Carper Voting Rights Act voting rights legislation

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