Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has reportedly told colleagues that he is considering leaving the Democrat Party if Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress do not cut the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill to $1.75 trillion.
According to sources familiar with Manchin, the senator may join the Independent Party if cuts are not made to the multi-trillion infrastructure package.
The U.S. Senate currently has two Independents, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maine Sen. Angus King, who both caucus with the Democrat Party. If Manchin caucuses with the Republican Party, he has the potential to put the Senate in Republican control.
Manchin reportedly set up a two-part exit plan, the Daily Mail reports. He would first send a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asking to be removed from his leadership committee. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee. If Democrats do not respond to his move within one week, Manchin will change his voter registration from Democrat to Independent.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has opposed provisions from the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would retire the entire coal industry, a staple of the West Virginia economy.
The senator is emblematically a pro-life Democrat. He has stated the multi-trillion dollar bill will be “dead on arrival” if the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal medicaid to cover abortions, is left out.
On Monday, Senate Democrats excluded the Hyde Amendment from their annual government funding bills.
The $3.5 trillion bill would also phase out fossil fuels from the energy industry over the next decade and replace it with solar and wind energy. It would penalize industries using fossil fuels as a way of encouraging them to use renewable energy.
Manchin has called the bill’s spending “reckless,” noting that it “makes no sense” to pay penalties to increase the use of renewable energy to prevent climate change. He is also against the “entitlement mentality” that the bill, packed with social programs, gives Americans.
Without Manchin’s vote, Democrats cannot pass the massive spending package in the divided 50-50 Senate. Manchin met with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders this week in an effort to strike a deal. Manchin has insisted that his $1.75 trillion is his final offer, and if Democrats cannot accept his offer, he will not vote for the deal, putting the entire bill at risk.
Manchin reportedly told colleagues that he is prepared to leave the party and has mentioned the possibility to Biden. Associates of his believe that he will likely leave the Democrat Party by November 2022.