Delaware Democrat and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper plans to retire from the Senate at the end of his term next year.

Carper has been in the Senate since 2001 and has played a key role in environmental legislation. He has chaired the Senate's chief environmental policy panel since 2021 and previously was the panel's ranking member for four years.

Carper recently introduced a permitting reform bill designed to speed the approval of clean energy projects funded through the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, legislation he strongly supported.

The four-term senator, who often calls himself a “recovering governor,” served as Delaware’s chief executive from 1993 to 2001. Before that, he represented Delaware as the state's lone vote in the House of Representatives for 10 years. He also was the state’s treasurer, a post he was elected to at age 29.

At his press conference, Carper also pointed out he is the last Vietnam veteran in the Senate.

He said he would keep working through the end of his term to implement the infrastructure law “with its major climate provisions, that I helped to write, along with the transformational clean energy tax provisions of the (IRA). Implementation of both laws is indispensable if we are ultimately to win the battle against global warming while creating tens of millions of American jobs in the years to come.”

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The decision could open the door for his fellow Democrat, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, to run for his seat.

At a press conference in Wilmington, Carper told reporters he had said to Blunt Rochester, “You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way, and I’m going to get out of the way,” according to The Washington Post.

If elected senator in reliably Democratic Delaware, Blunt Rochester would be the first African American and first woman to hold that role in the state. She has been in office since 2017 and was a member of the House Agriculture Committee in the 115th Congress from 2017 to 2019, when she took part in crafting the 2018 farm bill.

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