Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, reiterated Sunday that he has “no intentions” of changing his party affiliation at this time and highlighted his record of working with members of both parties based on policy ideas, rather than the political party they are affiliated with.
In an interview with “Face the Nation,” Manchin praised two key legislative achievements while Democrats controlled the House and Senate — their sweeping climate, health care and tax reform package and bipartisan infrastructure law — and said he is watching to see how the measures play out in the coming years.
“If people are trying to stop something from doing so much good, because of the politics thinking that somebody else will get credit for it. Let’s see how that plays out,” Manchin told “Face the Nation.” “Now, I’ll let you know later, what I decide to do. But right now, I have no intentions of changing anything except working for West Virginians, trying to give them more opportunities, better quality of life, and basically making sure our country is energy secured.”
Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema played crucial roles in the first two years of the Biden administration, as their votes were key for legislation passing the 50-50 Senate. During negotiations over Mr. Biden’s sweeping social spending plan last year, Manchin’s decision to withhold his support effectively sent the White House and Democratic leaders back to the drawing board, and a deal the West Virginia Democrat brokered with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer paved the way for Congress to pass their climate, tax and health care package, known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
After Democrats secured control of 51 Senate seats in the next Congress, Sinema announced this month she registered as an independent, but does not plan to caucus with Republicans. Her decision ensures Democrats maintain their wider hold of the Senate next year, but it sparked questions of whether Manchin would follow suit.
The West Virginia Democrat said he doesn’t put “much validity in the identity of being a Republican or Democrat,” and noted that he speaks out against both Republicans and Democrats when he believes they are wrong. While he seemed not to foreclose ever leaving the Democratic Party, Manchin added that Democratic leaders in Congress know well of his independent streak.
“The ‘D’ does not saddle me to everything the Democrats want to do is what’s right. I don’t think the Democrats have all the answers. I don’t think the Republicans are always wrong, and vice versa. I don’t look at things that way,” he said. “Where I came from is basically, how do I survive and make it better and the quality of life that we can extend to more people? That’s it. And if Republicans have a good idea, and I like it, I’m with it. And if I’m the only Democrat, which I’ve been many times, I feel very comfortable and come home and explain it.”
Both Manchin and Sinema are up for reelection in 2024. West Virginia went for President Donald Trump in 2020 by nearly 40 points.
Manchin continued to press for action on his plan to expedite federal environmental reviews of energy and natural resource project, which Schumer promised a vote on after Manchin backed the Inflation Reduction Act. President Biden last week said he supports Manchin’s permitting reform as a way to cut energy bills and promote U.S. energy security.
“You cannot be the superpower of the world if you don’t have energy independence. And energy independence means energy security and national security,” he said. “That piece of legislation that we wrote and worked on, basically takes a double path, 10 years certainty, that we’re going to have fossil fuel, the horsepower that runs our country, the cleanest in the world. We don’t have to go to Iran, the most prolific terrorist supporters in the world, we don’t have to go to Venezuela, who has very little oversight on environment. We can produce the fossil in this country to be totally independent, and help our allies with the cleanest fossil in the world. ”
Manchin said his permitting reform proposal “has to be passed sooner or later.”