With the Iraq war dominating the debate in Washington, President Bush has picked a fresh fight on the domestic policy front with his threat to veto bipartisan legislation that would expand a popular children's health care program.
And that veto threat has angered one of the most important Republicans negotiating on the bill: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
After hearing Bush say Thursday that he was going to veto the bill in part because it would allow families of four making $80,000 to place their children on the the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Grassley blasted the president, saying his assertion was dead wrong.
"The president has been served wrong information about what our bill will do," Grassley said Thursday between Senate votes. "There's nothing in our bill that would do that. His understanding of the bill was wrong."
Bush, in a morning news conference, told reporters that "Congress has made the decision to expand the program up to $80,000. ... This is a step toward federalization of health care."
Grassley said that a waiver to allow higher income families to utilize SCHIP has been taken out of the conference committee compromise forged between House and Senate negotiators over the past two days.