October 4, 2021

CNN hosts Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo don’t see eye to eye on the political leanings of two key senators. During the transition between their shows, Cuomo mentioned Democrats’ problem of finding unity.

“You also have two Republicans in the Democratic Party who are making problems for the Democrats, and that’s Manchin and Sinema,” Lemon said Sept. 29.

“That’s your opinion,” Cuomo said. “They’re both Democrats.”

“It’s not an opinion. Just look at the way they vote,” Lemon said.

We looked at the way they vote.

According to the latest tracking by FiveThirtyEight, they vote with President Joe Biden virtually all the time.

For Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, 100% of his votes align with Biden and the Democrats. That includes razor-thin party-line votes on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution (50-49), expanding voting rights (50-50) and $1.9 trillion for COVID-19 relief (50-49).

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has a similar record. The one exception is that Sinema didn’t cast a vote on establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That measure fell several votes short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.


Though Lemon focused on voting, it’s worth noting that on measures that have not come to a vote, Lemon has more evidence to support his case.

Both Manchin and Sinema oppose changing the Senate’s filibuster rule that allows a minority of 41 senators to block a bill. That position has stymied top Democratic priorities, including strengthening the federal role in overseeing elections.

The battle of the moment is over the Democrats’ reconciliation bill. Biden and a majority of Democrats back a $3.5 trillion proposal. That package faces opposition from a group of centrist Democrats in the House who face tough reelection races, but without Manchin and Sinema, the reconciliation bill has zero chance in the Senate.

A reconciliation bill needs only a simple majority, and in a 50-50 Senate, every Democrat must be on board.

Manchin issued a statement saying he can’t support the $3.5 trillion measure.

“Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” Manchin said Sept. 29.

Sinema has said she, too, opposes a $3.5 trillion price tag, but reports of her ongoing discussions with Biden and his staff hint that she might have some flexibility. At the time Lemon and Cuomo had their exchange, she was still in the “no” column.

The CNN press office told us that Lemon was having a light moment with Cuomo.

Manchin and Sinema have heard these attacks before, including from Biden. In a June speech in Oklahoma, Biden alluded to them when he said there were “two members of the Senate who voted more with my Republican friends” than with him.

The claim was inaccurate then, and still is.

Our ruling

Lemon said that based on their voting records, Manchin and Sinema are Republicans.

Both of them have voted with the Democrats essentially 100% of the time.

But they have broken with their party over the immediate effort to pass a multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill, a top Democratic priority. And so far, they have opposed changes in the Senate filibuster rule, another key roadblock to the Democratic agenda.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources here and more of their fact checks here.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Jon Greenberg is a senior correspondent with PolitiFact. He was part of the PolitiFact team during the 2012 presidential election and was one of the…
More by Jon Greenberg

More News

Back to News