Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is thinking about dropping the Democratic Party, apparently a Plan B if he is unable to get his way in negotiations with President Biden and his fellow Democrat colleagues on the massive tax-and-spending social bill, according to a report — but the moderate senator quickly shot down the “rumors,” calling it “Bullshit.
According to Mother Jones, Manchin allegedly told associates that he would leave the Democratic Party and switch to “American Independent” if the spending bill isn’t trimmed down from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion. The West Virginia senator had devised a detailed two-step exit strategy for his departure from the party.
The first exit step, according to the report, consisted of Manchin sending Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who also is the Democratic leader, a letter removing himself from Senate Democratic leadership as he currently serves as the vice-chairman of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee. The letter would send Schumer and his party a “signal” that his demand threats are serious. Manchin told the associate that he would “wait about a week” to see if the letter had any impact on the negotiations and scaring Democratic Congressional leaders to concede to his demands.
He has previously told Schumer he would not go for anything higher than $1.5 trillion toplines for the budget reconciliation.
With the Senate divided 50-50, Schumer can’t afford to lose Manchin in order to pass President Biden’s social agenda by the end of the month under the reconciliation process. Manchin, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are one of two key moderate Democrats in the Senate, who remain the bulwark against their liberal party’s massive social spending bill and other progressive measures.
After waiting a week and if Schumer didn’t, step two under the moderate senator plan was reported to have seen Manchin changing his voter registration from Democrat to Independent. It is unclear if he would have caucused with the Democrats like Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont despite the voter change or change the dynamics of the Senate in voting with the Republicans and giving them the majority in the upper chamber. Either or side he would pick as an Independent, Manchin would hold great sway over this half of Congress.
Shortly after the Mother Jones article spread like wildfire, Manchin was pressed by reporters in Capitol Hill, to which he bluntly denied the report saying, “it’s bullshit.”
“I can’t control rumors,” Manchin told reporters as they pounced on asking the senator to confirm the juicy scoop. “It’s bullshit. bullshit spelled with B, U, L, L, capital B!”
Manchin has been remarkably consistent, being known for saying what he means, unlike the rest of his colleagues from either side of the aisle. He is also known for being a West Virginia conservative old-school Democrat who is also an avid supporter of coal, cynical of big government spending, and has never pretended otherwise. His political belief has raised questions from reporters and commentators throughout the years about potentially switching parties, with Manchin shooting down the temptation.
He was recently asked over the Summer the same question about his party identity on Fox News with Special Report host Bret Baier asking, “What would it take for Joe Manchin to switch parties?”
“I guess you can put me anywhere you want, but having the ‘D’ or an ‘R’ by my name, or changing one to another, I’ve never considered that,” Manchin said. “I believe in the Democratic principles that I grew up with and how I was raised, and I respect every one of my Republican friends because they have a commitment.”
Manchin was planning to pull the trigger of his plan earlier this week and reportedly had told Biden about the possible move after policy disagreements with Sanders over the president’s massive domestic agenda turned towards public animosity. Last Friday, Sanders published an op-ed in Manchin’s hometown in a tirade piece to get West Virginians to pressure the moderate Senator to support the spending bill. Manchin clapped back to Sanders’ op-ed, signaling his anger that he had enough of the Progressive wing from lawmakers and their supporters’ harassment.
Despite the public verbal scuffle, Manchin stopped short of going ahead with phase one of his plan following a short one-on-one meeting with the Democratic socialist Monday evening. Also, Manchin’s own Democratic colleagues have recently moved closer to his top line position due to Biden reiterating to progressive in a White House meeting earlier this to scale back his spending package to the cost of $1.9T.
Still, the report serves as a warning to progressives to get serious about compromise. As progressive potential caving to his hard stance demands, Manchin believes “he is so out of sync” with the Democratic Party, telling the associates that he “is likely” that he would actually leave the party by Nov. 2022.