Manchin touts Nick Saban’s opposition to changing filibuster

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) touted Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s opposition to changing the filibuster on Twitter Thursday after receiving backlash for voting against changes to the procedure. 

“​​Coach Saban is exactly right: you cannot throw the filibuster out and expect the legislative process to work better. I wholeheartedly agree with the coaches that ‘Our democracy is at its best when all Americans are encouraged to participate,’” Manchin said

Saban, along with other sports stars, penned a letter to Manchin before the filibuster vote asking him to support voting rights legislation.

Democrats sought changes to the Senate rules to nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster for voting rights legislation so that they could pass the bill without Republican support. But the effort was defeated when Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) joined all 50 GOP senators in voting against the changes. 

In a footnote, Saban noted that he does not support changes to the filibuster.

“Coach Saban is not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate. He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we must have in our Democracy,” the footnote read. “The others signing this letter take no position on this aspect of Senate policies.” 

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement that he and Saban agreed on Friday to leave the footnote off the public version of the letter and out of the press release publicizing it, though it was included in a version sent to Manchin and other senators, reported.

“Nick Saban at the bottom of his letter — which they didn’t put, Paul Tagliabue didn’t put what Nick Saban wrote at the bottom, his footnote, he supports the filibuster,” Manchin said Tuesday. “Do not get rid of the filibuster. Now why did he automatically leave that out?”

Manchin and Sinema maintained for months before the vote that they would not support making changes to the filibuster, despite pressure from other Democrats and political organizations.

Democrats sought to make changes to the Senate’s legislative filibuster for voting rights legislation after Republicans previously used the 60-vote hurdle to block bills that would overhaul federal elections or strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act.