By Kate Scanlon
Sen. Joe Manchin on Wednesday sought to knock down a report that he is considering leaving the Democratic fold, a move that could end the party’s narrow Senate majority.
The West Virginia Democrat told reporters at the Capitol that a Mother Jones report on a potential defection is “bulls***.”
Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have faced a growing pressure campaign from far-left Democrats due to their objections to the social spending package as party lawmakers and President Joe Biden struggle to reach a deal on the legislation before an Oct. 31 deadline.
Manchin, who has sparked anger on the Left over his objections to the size and scope of a sweeping social spending bill, added, “I have no control of the rumors.”
On Wednesday, Mother Jones cited unnamed sources that Manchin told associates that he may leave the Democratic Party if Biden and congressional Democrats did not agree to back down from a $3.5 trillion bill. The report said Manchin planned to call himself an “American Independent” and that he “devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure,” including removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate via a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and changing his voter registration from Democrat to independent.
If Manchin were to leave the Democratic Party, it is not clear how such a change could affect the balance of power in the Senate. Democrats control the upper chamber on a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. It is unclear whether Manchin would continue to caucus with Democrats should he leave the party, as do independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.