Senate

Republican senator texted Joe Manchin about joining GOP

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday said he reached out to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to encourage him to join the Republican Party amid backlash over his opposition to the House-passed Build Back Better legislation.

Cornyn told KXAN — an Austin-based TV station that is part of Nexstar Media Group, which also owns The Hill — that he texted Manchin, “Joe if they don’t want you we do,” but hadn’t heard back.

“I don’t know what he will decide to do. But I do know West Virginia has gotten increasingly red. … So, yeah, we’d love to have him. That would change the majority,” Cornyn added.

The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats holding the majority because Vice President Harris can break a tie. If Manchin left the Democratic Party and joined with Republicans, that would give the GOP a 51-49 majority and make Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the majority leader.

Speculation about Manchin’s party affiliation has swirled around Washington, D.C., for years.

Manchin said earlier this year that he did not intend to leave the Democratic Party but added that he had told his colleagues that if it was “embarrassing” for them that he was Democrat, he would switch his party affiliation to Independent.

But under that scenario, according to Manchin, he would still formally caucus with Democrats, similar to Independent Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine). That would mean Democrats would maintain their narrow majority.

Asked on Monday if there was a place for him in the Democratic Party, Manchin told WV MetroNews’s Hoppy Kercheval, “I would like to hope that there are still Democrats that feel like I do. I say I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. Now if there are no Democrats like that, they’ll have to push me wherever they want to.”

Republicans have tried for years to recruit Manchin to join them without success.

“I enjoy our conversations. It would not surprise you to know that I’ve suggested for years that it would be a great idea representing a deep-red state like West Virginia for him to come over to our side. I don’t think that’s going to happen,” McConnell told reporters last week.

McConnell, during a Fox News radio interview this week, also questioned the public frustration with Manchin from Democrats, saying that he was “shocked at the vitriol and basically seemed to me that they were calling Senator Manchin a liar.”

“I think that was not smart. This is a 50-50 Senate,” McConnell added.

Tags Angus King Bernie Sanders Build Back Better Filibuster Joe Manchin John Cornyn Mitch McConnell Texas West Virginia

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