Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters on Monday that he won’t rule out leaving the Democratic Party, as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) did last week — but he added it won’t be in the near future.
“I’ll look at all of these things. I’ve always looked at all those things, but I have no intention of doing anything right now,” Manchin told CNN reporter Manu Raju, before adding: “Whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future is going to bring.”
The centrist Manchin has been a member of the Democratic caucus since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. The 75-year-old former West Virginia governor, along with Sinema, have helped derail several pieces of legislation backed by the party’s rank-and-file members, including the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill. Manchin has also opposed efforts by Democrats to end the Senate filibuster rules and has blocked White House appointees.
“I’m not a Washington Democrat, I don’t know what to tell you,” Manchin told reporters. “But I have a lot of friends who aren’t Washington Republicans, and if a Washington independent is, as I said, more comfortable, you know, we’ll see what happens there, we’ll have to look.”
In October 2021, Manchin threatened to switch his affiliation to independent after disagreements with colleagues over the Biden administration’s failed Build Back Better plan.
“I said, me being a moderate centrist Democrat, if that causes you a problem, let me know, and I’d switch to be an independent. But I’d still be caucusing with Democrats,” he said at the time, describing his discussions with fellow Democrats in Congress.
Last week, his Senate colleague Sinema announced that she had registered as an independent, leaving the Democratic Party to become the third independent in the upper chamber.
“I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington,” Sinema, 46, wrote in an op-ed for the Arizona Republic newspaper.
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