Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says a bill that provides federal money to states for health care coverage for uninsured children could come up for a vote in the Senate today or tomorrow . President Bush is threatening to veto the bill, and Harkin a Democrat says he can’t understand why.
Harkin says the bill is “overwhelmingly bipartisan, and credits fellow Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley with coming up with a compromise bill. “Unfortunately the president has rejected appeals from Senator Grassley and others to reconsider his veto,” Harkin says, “Bush seems to be locked into a rigid ideological position on children’s health insurance. The same kind of ideological driven thinking that got us into Iraq.”
Harkin isn’t sure the bill could survive a veto. He says the Senate would likely have the votes to override a veto, but there probably wouldn’t be enough votes in the House. Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Republican, was the only member of the Iowa House delegation to vote against the bill.
Harkin says he hasn’t spoken to King, but heard King was opposed because the bill would provide benefits to children of illegal immigrants. “I don’t know where he got that information, because this is forbidden under current law, that’s illegal.” Harkin says, “the bill clearly stipulates that federal money cannot be used to provide health benefits for illegal immigrants. It allows states to verify citizenship through Social Security numbers, that type of thing. So, I don’t know what he’s (King) talking about.”
Harkin quoted an opinion piece by King that said the bill was another “liberal” program the Democrats are trying to put into place. Harkin says Senator Grassley would probably be surprised to know he’s a liberal, and says King’s stance doesn’t make sense. “I would just think that..this is just being out of touch with working families in Iowa,” Harkin says.
Harkin says the Senate could vote on the bill tonight or tomorrow, depending on how quickly they want to get done for the weekend.