All-Star Panel: Reaction to Obama's Keystone veto

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 24, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm directed by the President of United States to deliver to the United States Senate a message in writing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The message will be received.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Veto message to accompany S1, a bill to approve Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: As unanimous consent that the veto message on S1 can be considered as having been read. Let it be printed in the record and spread in full upon the journal and held at the desk, and that the Senate proceed to its consideration at a time to be determined by the majority leader in consultation with the Democratic leader, but no later than March the 3rd.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Now, what other show is going to show you behind the scenes of the formal delivery of the president's veto to the Senate? "Special Report," that's right. It happened. It's official. We knew it was coming. It happened today. Speaker Boehner issuing a statement, saying "The President's veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment. It is embarrassing when Russia and China are plowing ahead on two massive pipelines and we can't get this one no-brainer of a project off the ground." Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer issuing a statement, "Today, President Obama stood up to the Republican-controlled Congress by vetoing their attempt to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, fighting back against the fossil fuel special interest pushing for the pipeline. Now, it's time for the president to stand up for our kids, our environment, and our economy by rejecting the Keystone pipeline once and for all." We're back with the panel. OK, it is important to point out that this was legislation, A.B. This was not the official designation by the administration, the State Department approval, the president's approval of the project. But, he privately, told governors apparently yesterday that this is not going to be built.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: You know, this is no surprise. Everyone knew it was going to be vetoed. It was just a matter of when. The Republicans in Congress will not be able to come up with a veto proof super majority to override the veto. It's still a very good issue for Republicans who have had a very rough two months in their new majority in the Senate and expanded majority in the House.

President Obama is actually using the checks and balances to argue that he can't do an end run around this procedure that needs to go through the State Department. He is protecting the executive branch. Meanwhile, the fight in Congress between Republicans about funding the Department of Homeland Security which is involved with the issue of the executive immigration order has to do with a battle with conservatives saying we can't relent and give this over to the president. Let him overreach so much that we are no longer a coequal branch. And so it's a very interesting exercise in everyone trying to retain their positions. This is a bipartisan, noncontroversial issue that Republicans should stick with and keep throwing up for votes, because it's far less toxic than other things like health care, which they aren't going to be able to repeal.

BAIER: So on the so-called amendments, the Christmas tree that could see a loft of ornaments, we may see the Keystone ornament numerous times.

STODDARD: Oh yeah, and they should do that.

BAIER: Latest Fox poll on this issue, Obama the Keystone issue, President Obama on Keystone pipeline sign, get the legislation, sign it, veto it, there you see the breakdown. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The president's statement in the veto is astonishing. He gives two reasons why he had to exercise the veto. Number one, it conflicts with the established executive branch procedures. This is a man who about a month ago signed with his pen the legalization of 5 million illegal aliens in contradiction to the statute, to the law, and to what he, himself, Obama had said at least a dozen times was unconstitutional and illegal.

BAIER: It was 22.

KRAUTHAMMER: He is concerned -- we can discuss that after.

BAIER: All right.

KRAUTHAMMER: Shall we say at least a dozen times?

BAIER: OK. We will leave it there.

KRAUTHAMMER: A dozen or more. The other argument, the other he says he exercised the veto because of the thing that they passed in Congress cut short thorough consideration of the issues. This is after 2,300 days of considering the issue. This is after five State Department reviews. You could have reviewed the bible 11 times and done it in a shorter period of time. This has been the most reviewed pipeline in the history of pipelines, and he says he can't allow the process to be cut short.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I was struck by the same thing. The Manhattan project took less time than the approval of Keystone Pipeline. Look, it is a no- brainer. Everything that I think John Boehner and Mitch McConnell said about the actual project itself is correct. But I disagree with A.B. It's time for Republicans to move on. Republicans have used the Keystone pipeline. They've talked about it be ad nauseum. And they've used I think as a replacement for a real agenda. It's time for a real agenda from Republicans, and forward-looking, strong, substantive agenda. Move beyond Keystone, make your arguments, and then be done with it.

BAIER: A fair and balanced panel. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to meet a little girl with a very big heart.

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