Senator Joe Manchin Departs Democratic Party, Embraces Independent Path

Joe Manchin, a retiring U.S. Senator from West Virginia, has left the Democratic Party to become an independent, citing 'partisan extremism'. His departure follows a similar move by Senator Kyrsten Sinema. This decision impacts the Senate dynamics but doesn't weaken the slim Democratic majority.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 21:46 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 21:46 IST
Senator Joe Manchin Departs Democratic Party, Embraces Independent Path
Joe Manchin

Retiring U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a frequent thorn in the side of the Democratic Party, on Friday left the Democrats, decrying "partisan extremism" as he followed in the footsteps of fellow former party maverick Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Like Sinema, Manchin registered as an independent. The 76-year-old West Virginia lawmaker's move will have no practical effect as he, like his Arizona colleague, will continue to caucus with Democrats, who hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate. Republicans, however, are seen as all but certain to win his seat in the Nov. 5 election.

"Our national politics are broken and neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground," Manchin said in a statement, adding that both parties had embraced "partisan extremism" and were putting democracy in jeopardy. Manchin and Sinema were key votes on multiple pieces of legislation early in Democratic President Joe Biden's administration, including a massive infrastructure bill.

But he has also forced some sweeping legislation to be scaled back and, along with Sinema, stood in the way of plans to reform or scrap the filibuster, a procedural tool that requires 60 votes to advance most legislation in the chamber. Manchin, a former state legislator and governor who arrived in the Senate in November 2010, announced last year that he would not seek reelection in November. He has been the subject of speculation that he would seek another political office.

Sinema has also said she will leave the Senate after serving one six-year term. Republicans have a strong chance of capturing a Senate majority in November, as Democrats are defending more than a half-dozen competitive seats while the Republicans up for reelection are in solidly Republican states.

Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice is expected to easily capture Manchin's seat, according to nonpartisan analysts. Former President Donald Trump won the state in 2020, taking a whopping 69% of the vote to 30% for Biden.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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