After effectively killing the Build Back Better Act, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is getting attacked by his own party for his “betrayal.”
The White House blasted Manchin on Sunday. “Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.”
“This session has also led to moments of deep discontent and frustration,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to fellow Senate Democrats Monday. “That frustration was evident in the past week as nearly all of us were disappointed by the decision to delay floor consideration of the Build Back Better Act because Senator Manchin could not come to an agreement with the president.”
As much as the Democrats were hoping for Manchin to get on board with their big-government socialist spending plan, attacking Manchin for not saving Build Back Better seems like a bad strategy. Back in October, there were rumors that Manchin was considering leaving the Democratic Party. Manchin dismissed the rumors, saying, “I can’t control rumors, and it’s bull****.” However, he did acknowledge that he’s approached “every day” about switching parties and has said that it probably would be “easier” to join the GOP than remain a Democrat.
“It would be much easier, my goodness,” Manchin said. “But is that the purpose of being involved in public service, because it’s easy?”
Even CNN analyst and former Democrat staffer Kirsten Powers thinks he should switch parties and become an Independent or a Republican.
So, is this a possibility?
According to Axios, sources close to Manchin say he is more likely to switch his affiliation to independent and caucus with the Democrats instead of becoming a Republican. This makes sense: it wouldn’t really change the current dynamic of the U.S. Senate, as it would leave Democrats in control of the chamber, and, according to Kirsten Powers, it would “be very clarifying because he’s not opposing this bill based on any issues that any Democrat wouldn’t support.”
That might work for Manchin, as he’s up for reelection in 2024, and by becoming an independent, he doesn’t risk losing in a primary to a more progressive Democrat like Senator Joe Lieberman did in 2006. Becoming an independent on his own terms is certainly better than doing so after losing a primary. But, seeing as his state overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2020, and Manchin barely won reelection in 2018, becoming a Republican is likely his safest move if he chooses to switch parties at all. That’s still an unlikely prospect, but for the moment, it seems that the White House and key Democrats might force his hand.