Manchin on party switch: 'It's bull----'

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Senate votes to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses MORE (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday dismissed a report that he is actively thinking about dropping out of the Democratic Party as "bullshit" and "rumors."

"It's bullshit," Manchin, a centrist, said bluntly after he was asked about a report published in Mother Jones that he has told "associates" he is actively thinking about leaving the Democratic Party. 

"I have no control of rumors, guys. No control of rumors," Manchin insisted after walking out of a lunch meeting with fellow Democratic committee chairmen just off the Senate floor.

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Mother Jones had reported that Manchin would leave the Democratic Party if President BidenJoe BidenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Biden to award Medal of Honor to three soldiers who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan: report MORE and his colleagues stick with a plan to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. The news outlet also reported that Manchin told associates he is considering a two-step plan for exiting the party.

In step one, according to the report, he would send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGillibrand slams committee leadership, Pentagon for military justice reform cuts Build Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda MORE (D-N.Y.) informing him of his plan to drop off Schumer’s leadership team.

After waiting for a week, in step two, he reportedly would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent, which would still allow him to vote in the Democratic Party primary under West Virginia election law. 

Manchin is up for reelection in 2024 and hasn’t said whether he’ll run for a fourth Senate term.

The West Virginia centrist, who has balked at his party’s $3.5 trillion price tag for a human infrastructure package, has often been asked about switching parties and every time has attempted to quash the rumors. 

Manchin appeared close to losing his temper on Wednesday when asked again about the Mother Jones report as he walked back to his office in the Hart Senate Office Building. 

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“I can’t control rumors, and it’s bullshit, bullshit spelled with b, u, l, l, capital b!” he declared, his voice rising with exasperation.

Manchin told Fox News in July that he “never considered” switching his party affiliation and that he was more focused on the substance of policy debates and how they would affect his home state.

“If switching a party or whether you have a ‘D’ by your name or an ‘R’ by your name changes who you are as a person, then you’re in the wrong profession and it’s all about you and not about the oath you take to the office, the oath to the Constitution, to protect and defend,” he told the cable network at the time.

If anything, Manchin’s Democratic colleagues have moved closer to his position on Biden’s Build Back Better agenda in recent weeks, acknowledging the spending package is likely to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $2 trillion instead of the $3.5 trillion target they set in their budget resolution.

Manchin told Senate Democratic colleagues at a lunch meeting Tuesday that he would negotiate with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray discusses US's handling of COVID-19 testing Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill MORE (I-Vt.) this week in hopes of reaching a framework agreement on the budget reconciliation package.

Manchin is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a panel with important jurisdiction over his home state’s energy industry. It’s not clear whether he would keep the gavel if he dropped out of the Democratic Party.

Updated at 2:43 p.m.