Joe Manchin Attacks AOC After Accusation He 'Huddles' With Oil Lobbyists

Senator Joe Manchin responded Sunday to an accusation from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that he has "weekly huddles" with fossil fuel lobbyists to write legislation, calling it "totally false" during an interview on CNN's State of the Union.

Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democratic congresswoman who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, tweeted on September 2 that "Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called 'bipartisan' fossil fuel bills." Her post followed Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, arguing against a $3.5 trillion spending plan she favors in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Ocasio-Cortez added she's "sick of this 'bipartisan' corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation."

Manchin accused Ocasio-Cortez of "just speculating and saying things."

"I keep my door open for everybody. That's totally false," he said. "Those type of superlatives, it's just awful. Continue to divide and divide and divide."

When CNN host Dana Bash said a number of Democrats have accused him of being against clean energy provisions in the spending plan due to corporate donors, Manchin said he opposes the provisions because he believes the policy "makes no sense at all" and that the transition to green energy is already happening

"They're wanting to pay companies to do what they're already doing," he said. "It makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities to do what they're going to do as the market provisions."

Progressives have coalesced around the $3.5 trillion spending plan, calling it necessary for a sustainable future. It includes a slew of progressive priorities including climate-proof infrastructure and Medicare expansion.

However, some moderate Democrats are instead pushing for a more narrow, bipartisan effort.

In the Senate, Manchin and Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema—also a centrist Democrat—have both said they would not support the bill.

"I, for one, won't support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs," Manchin wrote in the Wall Street Journal op-ed Ocasio-Cortez responded to.

He reiterated his stance on CNN Sunday, saying Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer "will not have" his vote on the $3.5 trillion spending package.

Some moderate House Democrats have also threatened to vote against for the proposal unless the House approves a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan that was passed in the Senate.

"I'm bewildered by my party's misguided strategy to make passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure bill contingent upon passage of the contentious, yet-to-be-written, partisan reconciliation bill," wrote Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a leader of the centrist Blue Dog caucus, last month in the Orlando Sentinel.

When reached for comment Sunday morning, a spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez's office declined to comment on Manchin's response.

Newsweek also reached out to Manchin's office for comment but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any replies.

Senator Joe Manchin
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin dismissed a claim by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez that he “huddles” with fossil fuel lobbyists on CNN Sunday. Here, he is seen outside the U.S. Capitol on August 3. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images