Earlier in the week, the Capitol Hill rumor mill was buzzing after a report from an ultra-liberal news website suggested that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) had thoughts about leaving the Democratic Party.
While Manchin quickly dismissed the rumors as “bulls**t,” it was later in the week that Reuters reported Manchin had, in fact, considered the possibility of exiting his party if he were to end up an “embarrassment” based on his moderate stance, which has continued to stir controversy given his opposition to the progressives’ desire to pass a $3.5 trillion social spending package.
The West Virginia senator clarified the report, which was originally published by Mother Jones, saying he considered exiting to become an independent “if I’m an embarrassment to my Democrat colleagues, my caucus, the president being the leader of the Democratic Party.”
“I said, me being a moderate centrist Democrat, if that causes you a problem, let me know and I’d switch to be an independent. But I’d still be caucusing with Democrats,” Manchin said. “That’s the only thing that was ever discussed. No one accepted that.”
Since the 2020 election, when Democrats secured majorities in both chambers — albeit by razor-thin margins, especially in the Senate — Manchin’s firmly moderate stance has essentially been the one persistent roadblock for his Democratic colleagues and their efforts to jam through as much progressive legislation as possible.
While it’s not the first time that Manchin has dealt with such rumors, the latest version comes at a time when, for many, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him shift to independent status, as he seems to be drifting further away from the growing body of ultra-progressives in his party, and in Congress.
According to The Hill, Manchin told his colleagues last week that he’ll soon meet with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), to talk about “reaching a framework agreement on the budget reconciliation package.”
Only one other moderate in the upper chamber, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), has remained steadfast in her opposition to her party’s attempt to push the massive spending package through as it stands.
Democrats, as of now, are certainly aware of the fact that they’re on a ticking clock, as any hopes of passing the legislation once the 2022 midterm election season kicks off next year is all but over.