Sen. Manchin on Obama vow to veto earmarks: 'I strongly disagree'

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is one of several Democrats to criticize President Obama's State of the Union pledge to veto any and all bills containing earmarks.

For Manchin, it's a thorny issue given that he just survived a closer-than-expected special election contest against a Republican who painted him as a pawn of big-spending Washington Democrats.

Also of note: Manchin is serving out the remainder of the the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) term and Byrd was one of the Senate's most prolific earmarkers. Manchin has to run for a full term in 2012 and is a top GOP target.

In a statement released after the president's Tuesday speech, Manchin said while earmarks have been "misused in the past," slamming the door on them entirely is a bad idea.

"While all West Virginians agree that we can't spend our way to prosperity, we must stop confusing sound investments with wasteful spending," Manchin said in the statement. "So I strongly disagree with the president's plan to veto all earmarks."

Back in December, Manchin voted against an earmark ban in the Senate, claiming the issue warranted more substantive discussion and debate in the upper chamber.

Speaking on CNN Wednesday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) also expressed disapproval of Obama's veto threat.

"I, frankly, wasn't very taken with the president's thought," Hoyer said. "Clearly, if there is additional spending that is not appropriate, the president ought to veto it. On the other hand, if it is an appropriate expenditure — in a community, in a state, in the nation — then I think the president ought to sign that."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also rebuffed the earmark ban Tuesday, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that it would give "the president more power, and he's got enough power already."

Some other Senate Democrats, who face reelection in 2012, however, are applauding the effort. The veto threat earned a standing ovation Tuesday night from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who's likely to face a tough challenge next year.