Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is growing more frustrated with the Bush administration over legislation that would expand a program providing insurance to children. Grassley, who is a ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, says he’s been working to reach a deal with President Bush on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).
Grassley says he felt like negotiations were going good until he learned Bush said he will not allow a cigarette tax increase to fund S-CHIP. Grassley says it’s the first time he’s aware of that the tax increase is an issue with the White House. Grassley says he felt like the two sides were making progress on the S-CHIP battle.
"And then he comes up with another item," Grassley said, "when you keep moving the goal post, I can’t negotiate under those circumstances. It’s a whole new cold water in the face as far as I’m concerned." Republicans who voted against the S-CHIP expansion, including western Iowa Congressman Steve King, have said the measure would extend benefits to children of illegal immigrants.
Grassley says, while the bill may not be perfect, supporters of the measure have done everything possible to address opponents’ concerns. "Our intent is that only citizens should be able to get S-CHIP," Grassley told Iowa reporters in a conference call Wednesday.