Democratic Sen. Mark Warner would support ‘small carve-out’ on filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation

Mark Warner
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • Sen. Mark Warner would back a “small carve-out” to the filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation.
  • Warner said he supports the For the People Act and lamented the raft of restrictive GOP-led voting bills.
  • He lamented the result of the 2013 filibuster rule change as it pertains to the Supreme Court.
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Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia on Sunday said that he would support a “small carve-out” on the filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation.

On “Fox News Sunday,” he cautioned against the Senate morphing into the House, where the majority party holds enormous sway over legislation, emphasizing the importance of preserving voting rights.

“I don’t want the Senate to become like the House,” Warner said. “But I do believe when it comes to voting rights, when it comes to that basic right to exercise and participate in democracy, I get very worried what’s happening in some of these states where they are actually penalizing, saying if you give somebody water waiting in line to vote, or in states like Texas where they’re saying a local government can overcome the results of a local election. That is not democracy.”

He added: “If we have to do a small carve out on filibuster for voting rights – that is the only area where I’d allow that kind of reform.”

Warner supports the sweeping voting-rights legislation known as the For the People Act, also identified as S.1, which would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other measures.

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Democrats would also like to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore federal preclearance from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was weakened in the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder.

Former President Donald Trump’s false election claims have only deepened the partisan divide on voting rights, and GOP congressional leaders have come out against the Democratic-led voting bills.

Last month, a vote to advance the For the People Act failed 50-50, with Democrats unable to win any Republican support. In order for the bill to pass under current rules, it would need to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome a legislative filibuster.

In an evenly divided Senate, that task has become nearly impossible, especially since the bill cannot be passed through the budget reconciliation process and moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona oppose nixing the filibuster entirely.

Democrats, who have strongly opposed the raft of restrictive voting bills that have passed this year in states like Arizona and Florida, sense a narrowing window for voting rights as the 2022 midterm elections approach.

In the interview, Warner questioned former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 2013 decision to change the filibuster rules for most presidential nominees, which now only require a simple majority.

“I would wish we wouldn’t even have started this a decade ago,” he said. “When the Democratic leaders actually changed the rules, I don’t think we would have the Supreme Court we did if we still had a 60-vote margin on the filibuster.”

He added: “But we are where we are, and the idea that somehow to protect the rights of the minority in the Senate, we’re going to cut out rights of minorities and young people all across the country, that’s just not right to me.”