West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has admitted he’s considered leaving his party following reports earlier this week that noted as much and that he initially called “bulls**t.”
According to the Daily Mail, Manchin, a centrist who has bucked his party over massive spending bills that are vital to President Joe Biden’s agenda, has considered leaving the Democratic Party if he has become an “embarrassment” to his colleagues following reports that he “raised a fist’ to far-Left Sen. Bernie Sanders during a behind-closed-doors meeting earlier in the day.
That said, Manching wouldn’t necessarily become a Republican, either, the Daily Mail reports:
On Wednesday, left-leaning publication Mother Jones reported that the moderate centrist had told associates he had a plan to leave the party if negotiations over the budget reconciliation bill did not go his way. He wants the cost of the social spending package cut from $3.5 trillion to around $1.75 trillion.
Manchin now told reporters on Thursday he would consider becoming an Independent ‘if I’m an embarrassment to my Democrat colleagues, my caucus, the president being the leader of the Democratic Party.’
According to the report, Manchin has a two-part plan for an exit from his current party.
First, he would send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., requesting to be removed from the party’s leadership; currently, he serves as vice chair of the Senate Democrats’ communications and policy committee.
Then, Manchin has said he would wait and see if that indicated to Democrats the seriousness of his effort to leave if negoations on the massive bills do not go as he would like. Then, a week or so later, he would change his voter registration, the Daily Mail reported.
Asked earlier about the Rolling Stone report, Manchin told reporters then, “I am where I am.”
On Thursday, however, Axios cited Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., who said that Manchin and Sanders quarreled behind closed doors and that Manchin reportedly told Sanders, who wants the full $3.5 trillion spending bill, he would settle for no bill at all.
“Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) squabbled behind closed doors Wednesday, with Manchin using a raised-fist goose egg to tell his colleague he can live without any of President Biden’s social spending plan,” Axios reported.
“The disagreement, recounted to Axios by two senators in the room, underscores how far apart two key members remain as the Democratic Party tries to meet its deadline for reaching an agreement on a budget reconciliation framework by Friday,” the outlet continued.
One of the senators in the room, according to the outlet, was Tester.
“Manchin said, ‘I’m comfortable with zero,’ forming a ‘zero’ with his thumb and index finger, Tester reiterated, saying he believes the West Virginia Democrat can live with himself if the Senate doesn’t pass any of the president’s $2-$3.5 trillion package,” Axios continued.
The other Democratic senator in the room, Chris Coons of Biden’s home state of Delaware, agreed.
“There was a vigorous, 10-minute discussion. Bernie said, ‘$6 trillion,'” the senator said, recounting what he said he heard.
“[Manchin] said, ‘We shouldn’t do it at all,'” Coons recalled, himself making the goose-egg symbol as he recounted the conversation.
“This will contribute to inflation. We’ve already passed the American Rescue Plan. We should just pass the infrastructure bill and, you know, pause for six months,” Manchin added, according to the report.
Axios said that the Democrats who witnessed the exchange were still confident that a deal would be done, but Manchin wasn’t as positive.
“This is not gonna happen anytime soon, guys,” he said. “I don’t see that happening.”