Republican Senator Encourages Democrat Joe Manchin to Switch Political Party

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
October 25, 2021 Updated: October 25, 2021

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee encouraged self-proclaimed centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to switch parties and not affiliate himself with Democrats that do not share his legislative values.

Lee made the comments on Fox News on Sunday, saying that Manchin should switch parties and leave the Democrats, whose policies are causing inflation and a rise in violence in cities across the nation.

“There’s still plenty of time. He can still switch parties if he wants to. I encourage him to do so. There’s no reason why he belongs with the ‘party of inflation,’ why he belongs with the ‘party of lawlessness,’ why he ought to remain with the party that’s harassing, intimidating, and belittling him at every turn, just so they can fundamentally remake the American economy and American society,” Lee said. “Absolutely, [he] should leave the Democratic Party and I look forward to embracing him when he joins our caucus.”

Republican lawmakers have been calling out Democrats for advancing policies that are exacerbating inflation, causing prices for basic goods like food and energy to go up.

While most Democrats are pushing for more money to go to government social programs in their new spending package, Manchin has been the strongest among the few within the Democratic Party to object to the federal government injecting more money into the economy.

In a September op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Manchin said he would not support a $3.5 trillion spending package, and in recent days, a rumor swirled that Manchin might switch parties. Manchin has since clarified his position and what he discussed with Democrat leadership.

“Anything that was ever said, that we ever talked about—if I’m an embarrassment to my Democratic colleagues, my caucus, the President being in the Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer and all down—and I said, ‘Me, being a moderate centrist Democrat, if that causes you a problem, let me know,’ and I’ll switch to being an independent,” Manchin told reporters last week. “But I’d still be caucusing with Democrats … that’s the only thing that was ever discussed, no one accepted that; I just said, I’ll make that offer if you need it.”

Regardless of Manchin’s political party, according to the senator’s own press statement, no currently serving Democrat has crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans more than Manchin. He “voted with a majority of Senate Republicans on 1,172 different votes, or 54% of the votes” cast in the senate, Lee told Fox News.

“Joe Manchin has got a backbone, and he’s got principles and he’s also got constituents, you know. He represents the good people of West Virginia, including a whole lot of poor and middle-class Americans who are finding that everything they bought from gas to groceries, from housing to health care, is getting more expensive,” Lee said.

Republican lawmakers are warning that additional spending will only worsen inflation as evidence suggests, with prices having jumped 4.2 percent in July compared with a year earlier, according to the Fed’s preferred gauge. It’s the largest increase in three decades.

In comments before the House Financial Services Committee, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Oct. 21 that he believes inflation will decline without higher rates from the Fed.

Current inflation “is a function of supply-side bottlenecks over which we have no control,” Powell said. “But I would say that we do expect in the first half of next year to see some relief, depending on the bottleneck in question, and inflation should move down.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Masooma Haq