Once-Wary Dem Now Supports Nuking Filibuster For Voting Rights Legislation

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee hearing on February 9, 2021. (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images)
November 4, 2021 9:56 a.m.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who previously withheld support for gutting the notorious filibuster, signaled a significant shift on his stance in the face of persistent GOP obstruction, particularly with voting rights legislation.

In an op-ed published in the News Journal on Thursday, Carper highlighted the urgency of passing Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as state Republicans across the country slap more and more restrictions on access to the ballot.

“Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues have repeatedly used the filibuster to obstruct the path forward,” Carper wrote.

The senator said that he wants to “hold out hope” that he and his Democratic colleagues can reach a compromise with Republicans on voting rights, but ultimately “I cannot look the other way if total obstruction continues.”

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“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,” the Delaware Democrat wrote.

Up until now, Carper had expressed some tepid interest in reforming the filibuster, but he hadn’t gone as far as boosting an all-out nixing of the rule for voting rights.

Carper’s op-ed came out the day after GOP senators predictably wielded the filibuster to block the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which aims to restore provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court, particularly the “preclearance” measure.

Republicans also used the filibuster to block the sweeping Freedom To Vote Act two weeks ago.

Voting reform has been put at the center of Democrats’ debate over maintaining the filibuster. President Joe Biden, who was previously reluctant to call for changes to the arcane Senate rule, declared several weeks ago that he was open to altering it for voting rights legislation and “maybe more.”

However, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) remain staunchly opposed to nuking or even reforming the filibuster.

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