I wouldn’t necessarily believe this if it came from another source, but David Corn of Mother Jones is pretty reliable, and this behavior fits the priors of someone who would associate with No Labels:
In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this. Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an “American Independent.” And he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.
The article says Manchin laid out the steps he would take to send a message that would back Schumer off during the present negotiations. It also says Manchin laid his cards on the table with the president:
Manchin told associates that he was prepared to initiate his exit plan earlier this week and had mentioned the possibility to Biden. But he was encouraged by the conversations with Sanders and top Democrats that occurred at the start of the week and did not yet see a reason to take this step. Still, he has informed associates that because he is so out of sync with the Democratic Party he believes it is likely he will leave the party by November 2022.
Manchin has repeatedly said that he has a significant philosophical difference with most of his fellow Democrats. He has told reporters that he believes major programs in the Build Back Better bill would move the United States toward an “entitlement mentality” and that he cannot accept that.
Maybe this explains why there seems to have been recent progress toward the “acceptance” phase of the BBB negotiations. Pawpaw Black Lung’s entitlement mentality is steering him away from compromise and toward the catastrophe of a McConnell-led Senate if his demands are not met, so they will be met.
The article doesn’t say, but I assume that if the infrastructure bill goes down, so does the Dems’ senate majority. Manchin’s donors want that bill.
So, it looks like the bipartisan infrastructure bill will pass along with a $1.75T BBB bill with no climate crisis mitigation provisions that would harm Manchin’s portfolio, and that will be that. Unless someone else decides to play the drama llama card — a possibility we cannot rule out.