A group of prominent sports figures wrote to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., last week asking him to support Democrats’ efforts in passing voting legislation.
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West were among the people who signed the letter to Manchin.
Democrat senators — other than Manchin and fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. — want to abolish the filibuster so they can pass their voting bill by a simple majority.
Manchin told reporters Tuesday that he agreed with the primary message of the letter, which was mentioned in a Monday press release attributed to Tagliabue.
"They're all straight on. They all want the right to vote, right? We all want that," said Manchin, who then pointed out an item omitted from Tagliabue’s release.
"And Nick Saban, at the bottom of his letter, which they didn’t put … Paul Tagliabue did not put what Nick Saban wrote at the bottom, his footnote — he supports the filibuster. 'Do not get rid of the filibuster.'
"Now why did he automatically leave that out?"
Manchin said that even though people "act like we're going to obstruct people from voting. That's not going to happen."
"There's no obstructing whatsoever," Manchin said. "The law's there. The rules are there, and basically, the government. The government will stand behind them and make sure they have the right to vote.
"We have that. The things they're talking about now are in court. [Democrat lawyer] Marc Elias has an awful lot in court. The courts have struck down, like in Ohio, they struck down the gerrymandering. Things are happening, OK? We act like we’re going to obstruct people from voting. That’s not going to happen."
Manchin said his Democrat colleagues should prioritize issues other than eliminating the filibuster and passing new voting legislation. He said Congress should be focused on dealing with inflation and creating jobs for people who became unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These are things we should be working on," he said. "These are things we should be coming to together, 'cohesing' around basically. How do we fix the challenges we have in America?”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., were copied on the letter to Manchin, USA Today said.
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