Senate Democrats

In Case You Missed It: Bush Administration Never Intended to Negotiate With Congress on CHIP

Today it was reported President Bush, in direct contradiction with his public statements, never intended to work with Members of Congress to sign the bi-partisan Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Measure. Internal documents reported by the New York Times revealed the President not only urged Republican members not to work with Democrats on CHIP, he went so far as to politicize the debate by requesting Republicans not negotiate with Democrats so as to have “leverage” later on. In fact, one Republican Members of Congress stated the White House “did not come forward with any real offer of a solution or a compromise.”

Internal Documents Revealed Members of Congress Reached Out to The President to Work on CHIP, Even Though He Urged Republicans Not to Work With Democrats, Contradicting His Public Statements. On June 27, President Bush argued the yet to be fully drafted CHIP proposal would “cause huge increases in government spending” and lead to “government-run health care for every American.” Senators were taken aback by the President’s comments given that telephone logs and e-mail messages showed that Republican senators and their aides had frequently consulted White House officials as the bill took shape. One House Republican, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) said, “The administration did not come forward with any real offer of a solution or a compromise that would break the logjam.” In fact, prior to his June 27th comments, the White House sent a message to Republicans saying the President hoped they would not cut a deal with Democrats. The White House predicted that Republicans would have more “negotiating leverage” in the fall. [New York Times, 11/5/07]

* Not Intending to Negotiate from the Start, President Bush Misled Americans When He Said The White House Wasn’t Part of the Process on CHIP. Right, as I said, we weren’t dialed in. And I don’t know why. But they just ran the bill, and I made it clear we weren’t going to accept it. That happens sometimes. In the past, when I — I said, look, make sure we’re a part of the process, and we were. In this case, this bill started heading our way, and I recognize Republicans in the Senate supported it. We made it clear we didn’t agree. They passed it anyway. And so now, hopefully, we’ll be in the process. That’s why the President has a veto. Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the President, pass pieces of legislation, and the President then can use the veto to make sure he’s a part of the process. [White House Press Conference, 10/17/07]

Lawmakers and Aides Stated They Had More than 35 Meetings with the White House on CHIP. President Bush claimed he was not “dialed in” as Congress negotiated the reauthorization of CHIP. However, lawmakers said they and their aides had had more than 35 meetings and telephone conversations on the issue with Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Hennessey (Former Policy Director for Senator Trent Lott) and Ms. Goon (Special Assistant to the President) from January through September. [New York Times, 11/5/07]

* White House Press Secretary Dana Perino Misled Americans When She Argued Democrats Would Not Meet with the Administration to Negotiate on CHIP: [T]he President designated three people to represent him in negotiations on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, so that we could find common ground with the Democrats. He sent Secretary Leavitt of Health and Human Services, OMB Director Nussle, and Al Hubbard, the National Economic Advisor, to Capitol Hill in order to have discussions. The Democrats wouldn’t meet with us, and I think that does not bode well when you’re trying to find a — when you’re to negotiate. [White House Press Briefing, 10/26/07]

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