According to a report, Democrats are so desperate to eliminate the Senate filibuster — which would enable the Democrats, who control the Senate, to pass legislation regarding voting that would be highly favorable to them— that two former presidents and celebrity Oprah Winfrey have contacted Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is considered the pivotal vote in the Senate, to pressure him into accepting the filibuster’s demise.
Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have joined Winfrey in the cooperative effort to persuade Manchin, according to Politico.
“Manchin has told colleagues that his phone line has been lighting up with prominent names outside the Senate in recent days. He’s heard from former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and talk-show legend Oprah Winfrey, plus former staffers to both Manchin and former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), according to a person familiar with the talks,” Politico reported.
In January 2021, Manchin clearly stated he would not support killing the filibuster, saying, “If I haven’t said it very plain, maybe Sen. McConnell hasn’t understood, I want to basically say it for you. That I will not vote in this Congress, that’s two years, right? I will not vote” to change the filibuster. “And I hope with that guarantee in place he will work in a much more amicable way.”
“I’m in the same place I’ve always been,” he added. “Busting the filibuster under any conditions is wrong. We can organize the Senate. I’m sure we can work through that. If he knows as strongly as I feel about it?”
The same month, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper, Manchin stated that he was against eliminating the legislative filibuster, saying, “I’m basically for making this place work together. I don’t know if that works. I’d be no on that.”
Because of the filibuster, a minimum of 60 votes is needed to advance legislation; most Democratic proposals would require at least 10 GOP senators to agree in order for them to be passed. Eliminating the legislative filibuster would enable the Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority vote.
The way the filibuster works is this: the minority party can keep debate open on a legislative issue until the Senate votes to close the issue, but to close the vote takes 60 votes. There are limitations on the filibuster: it cannot be used for certain budget bills, federal executive branch appointees and judicial appointments, including Supreme Court nominees.
The exchange between the two men went like this, as Tapper conducted what he called a “lightning round”:
Tapper: It’s tough getting a senator to do a lightning round, but I have to ask you because we have less than a minute.
Manchin: Okay. Let’s do it.
Tapper: Eliminating the legislative filibuster. Yes or no?
Manchin: Oh, Jake, I’m basically for making this place work together. I don’t know if that works. I’d be no on that.