Manchin says birthright citizenship 'worthy of looking at'

Manchin says birthright citizenship 'worthy of looking at'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change Trump formally taps David Bernhardt to succeed Zinke at Interior MORE (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that the concept of granting birthright citizenship is "worthy of looking at," but was adamant that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE cannot change it via executive order as he has suggested.

"I think it’s worthy of looking at it. I think the president needs to say what he intends to do," Manchin said during a West Virginia Senate debate.

"I think there’s a lot can be done, and a lot can be controlled, but he cannot do it by an executive order," the senator added, arguing the president can't unilaterally change the Constitution.

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Manchin's opponent, Republican Patrick Morrisey, said Trump is "right to look at the birthright lottery," but added he would want to see the president's executive order to ensure it's being handled the right way.

Manchin, who is up for reelection in a state Trump won easily in 2016, joined Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.), another vulnerable Democrat, in appearing open to the idea of ending birthright citizenship.

In an interview with Axios published Tuesday, Trump vowed to end citizenship for children of nonlegal residents born in the U.S., a change he proposed during the 2016 campaign.

He did not indicate when he would sign such an order, but the concept is one of many he has floated in the closing days of the campaign regarding immigration.

A number of lawmakers, including Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says Trump will win reelection because of 'record of accomplishment' Pence loses House office space Dem budget chair: Trump 2020 proposal 'cruel-hearted' MORE (R-Wis.), Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally to back Trump on emergency declaration Flake: Biden 'strikes fear in a lot of Republicans' Press: Which way do Dems go in 2020? MORE (R-Ariz.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll Divisions emerge over House drug price bills MORE (R-Iowa) promptly refuted Trump's assertion that he can end birthright citizenship via executive order since it is enshrined under the 14th Amendment.

"Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order," Ryan told WVLK radio in Lexington, Ky.

Trump responded to the criticism on Wednesday, saying birthright citizenship would be ended "one way or another" and attacking Ryan.