Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is more likely to become independent than join Republicans if he leaves the Democratic Party, Axios reported.
Many people have wondered whether the moderate Manchin, who Sunday said he would not support President Joe Biden's $2 trillion social spending and climate legislation, would change parties.
Axios, though, reported Monday that Manchin was more likely to switch to independent and caucus with the Democrats than become a Republican. The report was based on people close to the senator.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week "it would be a great idea" for Manchin to join the GOP.
"It would not surprise you to know that I've suggested for years it would be a great idea, representing a deep-red state like West Virginia, for him to come over to our side," McConnell said Thursday of Manchin. "I don't think that's going to happen."
McConnell added that he admired Manchin for sticking to his principles while many Democrat lawmakers have turned progressive and more socialist.
"We do appreciate the fact that he seems to be one of the few remaining centrists left in the Democratic Party," McConnell said. "We had way more moderate Democrats when Barack Obama was president than we do today. They seem to all gone hard left. Joe has resisted that, and I admire him for it."
Manchin has denied interest in leaving the Democratic Party. One report in October said the senator told associates that he had an exit plan.
"I can’t control rumors, and it’s bulls**t ... capital B," Manchin told reporters, Axios reported.
Progressives told Axios that they want Biden to fight back hard against Manchin. White House press secretary Jen Psaki led the way by attacking the fellow Democrat on Sunday.
"If [Manchin's] comments on [Fox News Channel] and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the president and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate," Psaki said.
Progressives are incensed at Manchin because Democrats need every member to support Build Back Better to pass the bill via reconciliation in a 50-50 Senate.
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