According to a new allegation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been quietly considering a plan to leave the Democratic Party.
According to Mother Jones, the West Virginia senator has told acquaintances that if President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers do not agree to reduce the social infrastructure plan from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, he may leave the party.
“Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an ‘American Independent,'” reports the site’s David Corn, “and he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.”
The senator would first resign from his party’s leadership in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), then wait a week to see if this has any effect on discussions, and finally alter his voter registration from Democratic to independent.
It’s unclear whether he’ll caucus with Democrats or vote with Republicans, which would tip the Senate’s balance, but the infrastructure measure would be lost without his support, and he’s warned Democratic colleagues that if they don’t accept his $1.75 trillion caps, they risk losing the bill entirely.
Manchin told associates that he almost followed ahead with the pullout plan this week and mentioned it to the president, but had been inspired to keep working on a settlement by meetings with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others.
Earlier this month Manchin became enraged after a major newspaper in his state published an op-ed by Senator Bernie Sanders criticizing Manchin’s opposition to his own party’s Build Back Better reconciliation plan.
“Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs,” Manchin said in a statement shared on social media.
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 15, 2021
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“No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that,” he added, in a feeble and mismanaged attempt to discredit Sanders.
The issue is an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, in which he calls the proposed reconciliation bill “an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes.”
Sanders explains how the plan will address the climate crisis while also making large investments in Americans’ well-being, including as reducing prescription medication costs, extending Medicare, maintaining cash transfers to working-class parents, and making community college tuition-free.
The op-ed was published on the same day that the New York Times and CNN reported that Manchin’s opposition to the Clean Electricity Performance Program, dubbed “the most impactful climate investment under consideration in Congress,” would almost certainly result in its omission from the budget proposal.
The name of the op-ed in The Charleston Gazette is “Let’s stand together to protect working families.”
“In America today, the very rich are becoming richer while millions of working families are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills. We now have the absurd situation in which two multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans; the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92%, and the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in the last 100 years.
“The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden and almost all Democrats in Congress, is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, this legislation would be paid for by ending loopholes and raising taxes on the 1% and large profitable corporations,” Sanders wrote in the op-ed.