Manchin: Keystone veto threat 'not the way a democracy works'

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe Manchin5 takeaways from the Pa. Senate debate Trump questions hound endangered Republican Dems to McConnell: Pass 'clean' extension of Iran sanctions MORE (D-W.Va.) said Thursday he was disappointed that the White House threatened to veto his legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing the president’s move was “not the way a democracy works.”

The West Virginia lawmaker said he was upset Obama did not reserve judgment on the bill until it went through the committee and amendment process in an interview with Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“I just couldn't believe that out of the gate, two hours after [Sen.] John Hoeven [R-N.D.] and I announced that were introducing the bill, that they would come out from the White House and the president would make a statement that he's going to veto it,” Manchin said.

The Democrat said he had been hopeful the president’s history serving in the Senate would have led him to hold off on a veto threat.

“I would have thought the president would say, ‘Listen, being a former legislator, I'm going to wait until this process unfolds. And at the end of the day, I'll tell you, do I like what they came up with, or do I not like what they came out with, and this is my reason for veto,’ ” Manchin said. “[He] never even gave it a chance, never even gave it a chance. Now, that's just not the way you do legislation. It's not the way a democracy works. And it's not the way the ... three branches of government should work.”

Manchin said he believed the controversial construction project would be approved despite the veto and that the process was an opportunity for Democrats to extract concessions that could “strengthen” the legislation.

“There's an awful lot of things — renewable resources, energy efficiencies — which maybe we can come to an agreement on, which would strengthen the bill, things that make our country better and stronger and more cost effective and efficient, and basically [have a] better, cleaner climate,” Manchin said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week that Obama would veto the legislation to preserve the “well-established process” by which the State Department evaluates transnational construction projects. Earnest also said Obama was concerned about the potential environmental impact and that an ongoing Nebraska court case meant the route of the pipeline was still undetermined.

“I think the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do,” Earnest said.