Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) denied claims that he will be leaving the Democratic Party after an unsourced report from left-wing Mother Jones said he considering departing the party unless the White House agreed to reduce spending on the proposed $3.5 trillion social welfare bill.
“I have no control over the rumors,” he told reporters on Wednesday in response to questions about leaving the party. “We’re friends … it’s [expletive].”
Manchin, while speaking to The Hill while walking back to his office in the Senate building, also said, “I can’t control rumors and it’s [expletive], [expletive],” raising his voice.
According to the Mother Jones report, penned by longtime editor David Corn, Manchin allegedly told “associates” that he devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure” from the Democratic Party. He would then declare himself an “American Independent,” the publication reported, without offering any named sources for the claim.
It also alleged Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2024, would first send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) informing him of his plan to leave Schumer’s leadership team. Then, he would change his party registration from Democrat to independent.
In July, Manchin was also asked about whether he’d leave the party as he publicly balked at the price tag for various White House-backed initiatives.
“If switching a party or whether you have a ‘D’ by your name or an ‘R’ by your name changes who you are as a person, then you’re in the wrong profession and it’s all about you and not about the oath you take to the office, the oath to the Constitution, to protect and defend,” he told Fox News, adding he “never considered” switching.
Manchin is the head of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and it’s not clear if he would keep that leadership position if he left the Democratic Party.
It comes as congressional progressives including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and others have sparred publicly with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) over the social spending bill.
After Sanders wrote an opinion article in Manchin’s hometown newspaper on Friday, the West Virginia senator issued a sharply worded statement, saying that it “isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state.”
“Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs. No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that,” Manchin stated.
Sanders said that certain provisions in the $3.5 trillion bill, including an expansion of Medicare and drug pricing reforms, would aid West Virginia.
The Epoch Times has contacted Manchin’s office for comment.