Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia told reporters he offered to drop his party affiliation if he was considered a problem for the Democrats.
Reporters at the Capitol asked Manchin on Oct. 21 if he had threatened to leave the party during negotiations regarding the social spending bill.
“No,” said Manchin, who is considered a moderate Democrat. However, he did tell the reporters there had been a conversation wherein he said if “being a moderate centrist Democrat … causes you a problem, let me know, and I’d switch to be an independent, but I’d still be caucusing with Democrats.”
He said he would make the change if he were ever considered “an embarrassment” to Democratic colleagues and the president,
“That’s the only thing was ever discussed. No one accepted that, and I just said, ‘I’ll make that offer, if you need it,'” Manchin said.
Earlier this week, Manchin denied a report from Mother Jones claiming the Senator had threatened to leave the party if his colleagues and President Joe Biden did not agree to cut the social spending bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion.
“It’s bulls—,” Manchin said when asked about the report on Oct. 20.
Republican Senator John Cornyn also publicly doubted the validity of the claim.
“He’s like a bunch of moderate Democrats in Texas: they were born that way and they’re never going to change,” Cornyn told reporters.
According to CBS News, “if he were to leave the Democratic Party, and not caucus with Democrats, as reported by Mother Jones, Manchin would hand control of the Senate to Republicans and radically diminish his own political power, not to mention that of Democrats. He would lose his chairmanship of the Energy Committee, and it’s unlikely Republicans would let him chair the panel, were he to caucus with them.”
Manchin is known for his independence, voting against his party on several critical issues in recent years. He joined Republicans and voted for a measure that banned the use of federal funding for the instruction of Critical Race Theory.
He also voted against the Democrats’ election bill, the “For the People” Act, in June.
“I think it’s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further,” he told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further than I’m in right now. I love my country, and I think my Democrat and Republican colleagues feel the same.”
The act would “allow same-day voter registration, curtail voter ID requirements, and change campaign laws to curb the influence of outside spending on elections,” per The Washington Examiner. It was passed without Republican support in the House.
According to ProPublica, Manchin voted against a majority of Senate Democrats 153 times (25.8%) in the 115th Congress (2017-18), 174 times (24.8%) in the 116th Congress (2019-20), and 37 times (8.9%) in the 117th Congress (2021-22).
Currently, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Manie Senator Angus King are the only registered independents in the Senate.
Out of 410 votes in the 117th Congress, Manchin and King have disagreed on 30 votes. The West Virginia senator disagreed with Sanders on 50 votes during the current congress.