VIRGINIA — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.
Va.) said Wednesday he was “not ready to retire” from the Senate as he said he will remain in the chamber until he’s done.
The West Virginia Democrat said he would continue to work to help Democratic Senate candidates in the coming months and called for an independent investigation into the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting that took the lives of 49 people and wounded 53 more.
“It was an honor and privilege to serve the people of West Virginia, but it was not a choice for me,” Manchin said.
“The country owes me an apology and I am taking it.
It was not easy to make the tough choice, but I am doing it.”
Manchin’s comments come as Democrats and Republicans are wrestling with the aftermath of the Pulse shooting, which left 49 dead and 53 wounded.
The deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., came less than a week after a gunman opened fire in a gay club in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 people and wounding 22 more.GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said he was disappointed with the Senate’s leadership for not taking the “right steps” after the shooting, but he also said Manchin is not the “perfect” person to lead the Senate.
Manchin, who served in the Senate for 10 years, said he is “not running for president again” in 2020.
“I’m not running for reelection,” he said.
Manchins decision to stay in the Capitol comes as the Republican majority in the upper chamber has faced criticism for inaction after the Pulse attack.
He was among the last Republican senators to vote against the bipartisan bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act.
The Republican majority has also faced criticism from Democrats and a growing number of Republicans for inaction in response to the shooting.GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) has said the Senate leadership “lacked the backbone to hold accountable those responsible” for the shooting and called on the president to step in.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D.-Ind.), who chairs the Senate Democratic caucus, has said he won’t support a Biden-Manchin transition if Manchin resigns.
“I’ve been very clear,” Donnelly said in an interview with MSNBC.
“If Joe Manchins leadership does not provide a strong response, I am not going to support a Joe Mancis transition.”
Manchis decision to continue in the House comes as Republicans have lost their majority in Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.
Manchin has called for Democrats to unite behind a health care bill, which he has said would replace the Affordable Health Care Act with a single-payer system.
“As the nation continues to grapple with the Pulse tragedy, I look forward to working with President Biden and other members of Congress to pass a bold and comprehensive health care package that will improve the lives and health of all Americans,” Manchis office said in a statement.