Manchin says birthright citizenship 'worthy of looking at'

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

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks 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 TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees 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 DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown 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 RyanGOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism MORE (R-Wis.), Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least MORE (R-Ariz.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal 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.