Manchin responds to Ocasio-Cortez tweet: 'Continue to divide, divide, divide'

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.) on Sunday responded to criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Photos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-N.Y.), who claimed in a tweet that Manchin has huddled "weekly" with personnel from Exxon, contending that such attacks “continue to divide, divide, divide.”

During an appearance on CNN's “State of the Union,” Manchin denied having any such meetings with Exxon or other fossil fuel lobbyists.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Manchin told host Dana BashDana BashHouse is no easy road for Biden, Democrats on .5T package Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE. “I keep my door open for everybody. It's totally false.”

He also said “superlatives” such as the one used by Ocasio-Cortez are “just awful” and “continue to divide, divide, divide.”

“I don't know that young lady that well. I really don't. I have met her one time, I think, between sets here. But that's it. So we have not had any conversations. She just speculating and saying things because she wants to,” he added.

Ocasio-Cortez earlier this month tweeted in response to an op-ed in which Manchin said he would not support a $3.5 trillion spending bill, saying the senator “has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills.”

“It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation,” the progressive lawmaker added.

The criticism from Ocasio-Cortez was sparked by Manchin’s opposition to a $3.5 trillion price tag for Democrats’ reconciliation spending bill, which needs full support from the caucus to pass in the evenly divided Senate.

Democrats are looking to advance the package — which includes a number of President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s legislative priorities for education, health care and child care — through reconciliation, which will allow the party to buck a Republican filibuster by requiring only a simple majority vote.

With that strategy, however, all Senate Democrats must remain banded together.

When pressed on Sunday by Bash on criticism from a number of Democrats that Manchin is opposing the bill because he is “bought and paid for by corporate donors,” the senator said he is against the legislation “because it makes no sense at all.”

“You're entitled to your own facts — I mean, your own opinions. You're just not entitled to create your own facts to support it. And that's exactly what they're doing,” Manchin said.

Manchin previously called for a “pause” in deliberations on the reconciliation bill, which many of his colleagues in the upper chamber are against.

A lobbyist for Exxon Mobil was caught on undercover footage published in June saying he speaks with Manchin’s office weekly.

“Joe Manchin, I talk to his office every week,” lobbyist Keith McCoy said, according to footage by Unearthed, which is affiliated with Greenpeace.

McCoy, on the recording, said the senator is a “kingmaker,” adding that “on the Democrat side we look for the moderates on these issues” in their attempts to thwart policies that may have a negative impact on the company’s business, according to NPR.

Manchin did not address the comments at the time.

Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Darren Woods later released a statement condemning the remarks made by McCoy, “including comments regarding interactions with elected officials.”

He said the comments “in no way represent the company’s position on a variety of issues, including climate policy and our firm commitment that carbon pricing is important to addressing climate change,” adding that the company was “shocked by these interviews.”

The Hill has reached out to Ocasio-Cortez's office for comment on Manchin's latest remarks.

Updated 4:30 p.m.