Sen. Joe Manchin brushes off the idea of switching parties: 'I've never considered it from that standpoint'

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Joe Manchin
In this Feb. 13, 2021, file photo Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington Alex Brandon/AP
  • Sen. Joe Manchin has not thought about switching parties despite his conservative leanings.

  • "I've never considered it from that standpoint," he told Vox in an interview.

  • The West Virginian has faced pressure from the left wing of his party to reform the filibuster.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has never thought about trading in his Democratic Party affiliation for the GOP, he told Vox in an interview published Tuesday.

"I've never considered it from that standpoint because I know I can change more from where I'm at," said the moderate Democrat, who regularly pushes for bipartisan dealmaking.

The comments come as Manchin has tossed Republicans a lifeline by refusing to give into pressure from progressives within his own party. Manchin has opposed left-wing proposals, such as reforming the filibuster and raising the federal minimum wage to $15. He has instead advocated for Democrats to reach across the aisle to fulfill their agenda.

Manchin defended his politics to Vox, citing his West Virginia roots and saying that he's "just the product of my environment." He said he was taught to help those in need but also learned the value of hard work.

"You want to continue to send checks and give everything away continuously, that's not who I am," he told Vox. "Not the way I was raised."

"I'm sorry if you don't like it," he continued. "It's who I am."

Known for his conservative voice, Manchin has previously voted with Republicans and hails from one of the reddest states in the country, which former President Donald Trump won in 2020 by nearly 39 points. Now, with President Joe Biden in office, Manchin wields an outsize influence because Democrats need all 50 votes to advance their legislative priorities in the evenly-divided Senate. That means Manchin often has the ability to make or break bills.

Manchin has flexed his power by shutting down calls to reform the filibuster, a Senate procedural tool often used by the minority party to delay or block legislation. He also put up an initial fight against Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package and rejected a provision that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15. The measure was removed. Manchin backed the final bill, which passed along party lines in March, demonstrating how much his support matters in order for Democrats to enact their agenda.

"I still believe in the principles of the Democratic Party that I grew up with," Manchin told Vox, explaining that "everyone should have a helping hand" with "the basic necessities of life" and that everyone should "contribute."

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