Barack Obama and Oprah have personally called Sen. Joe Manchin to urge him to support Senate filibuster reform, report says

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden about his long-stalled domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 13, 2021.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden on December 13, 2021.Scott J. Applewhite/AP
  • Democrats are turning up the star power as they vie for Sen. Joe Manchin's support for Senate filibuster reforms.

  • Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have called Manchin as has Oprah, Politico reports.

  • But the West Virginia Democrat still isn't on board with reforming the Senate rules along party lines.

Democrats are pulling out all the stops to get Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on board with an effort to reform the Senate filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.

They've turned up the star power with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and talk show host Oprah calling Manchin and urging him to support reforms to Senate filibuster, Politico reports.

But three of Manchin's colleagues, fellow moderates who were also once skeptical of filibuster reform, are doing the bulk of the lobbying, according to Politico. Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Angus King of Maine, and Jon Tester of Montana are in close talks with Manchin trying to coax him to support Senate rules changes.

Related video: This animation shows how divided Congress has become since 1949

After Manchin put the kibosh on passing President Joe Biden's economic spending package in December, Senate Democrats are turning to their long-stalled push to pass voting rights and democracy reform legislation.

Democrats are now specifically focusing on reforming the procedural rules governing the Senate in response to Republicans filibustering three major voting rights and democracy reform bills in 2021. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to hold a vote on yet-to-be-determined rules changes on or before Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 17.

The vast majority of legislation in the Senate requires a 60-vote majority to advance to debate under the current filibuster rules.

The filibuster reforms being discussed include creating a carve out to allow voting rights legislation to pass with a simple majority, returning to the talking filibuster, and lowering the threshold on motions to proceed to debate legislation, according to Schumer.

But the odds of all 50 Senate Democrats agreeing on changes to the filibuster rules by MLK Day are low, as Manchin continues to oppose creating a voting rights carveout or making changes to Senate rules along party lines. Another key swing Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, similarly opposes lowering the 60-vote threshold to advance to debate on most bills.

"It's very difficult, it's a heavy lift," Manchin told reporters outside his office on Tuesday. "Once you change rules or have a carve out … and I've always said this: Anytime there's a carve out, you eat the whole turkey, there's nothing left, because it comes back."

Meanwhile, Manchin and Sinema appear to be moving on. A bipartisan group of senators is holding preliminary discussions about a bill to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the law governing how Congress counts Electoral College votes that came into focus during the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol.

Read the original article on Business Insider