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SCHIP, Armenians, Republicans

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SCHIP, Armenians, Republicans

SCHIP, Armenians, Republicans

SCHIP, Armenians, Republicans

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Congress is set to vote to override President Bush's veto of the government program for child health insurance. The Bush administration cries foul over Congress' resolution of genocide of Armenians at the hands of Turks. GOP presidential hopefuls are fighting.

: Also in Washington this week, Congress will try to override President Bush's veto over a popular Children's Health Care Program.

The President rejected the bill that would have increased spending on that program. He did say that he was willing to work with Congress on a less expensive alternative. Although, House speaker Nancy Pelosi says she doubts that.

NANCY PELOSI: Compromise to the President means, in all due respect for the President, his compromise - to his - means do it my way, and I prefer it go Congressional way: bipartisan, responsible, paid for. And we'll talk to the President at the right time when he makes an offer to do so.

: That's Democrat Nancy Pelosi speaking on ABC's this week, and she speaks as Congress prepares to thrive that override.

: Let's get some analysis as we do every morning from NPR's Cokie Roberts.

Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.

: So, do Democrats have the two-thirds majority they need?

ROBERTS: No. And she was pretty clear about that yesterday. But it is going to be a tough vote for Republicans, and Democrats are enjoying that. The Republicans, who are defending the fact that the president has vetoed this, say, well, it's important for us to reestablish our brand as a party, to get to our own voters and say, look, we really are for keeping spending low and not for expanding these programs and going to government-run health care.

But it is very nice political moment for the Democrats to be able to say the Republicans are hurting children. And they will take this vote and then they do expect to have a compromise and get to another vote to fund the program because nobody is going to let it die. And my guess is, Steve, in the end, it looks - what does pass looks a lot like what the Democrats are voting for right now. But the Republicans are making their point for better or worse.

: Let me ask about the politics of another subject that may be dividing Congress and the White House. Last week, Congress was considering this resolution on the mass killings of Armenians during World War I. We're talking about killings that began in 1915, which caused a lot of people to ask, day after day, why is this on the agenda right now?

ROBERTS: Well, it's been on the agenda over and over again through the years. And any administration in office says please don't do this because it offends our ally Turkey and we need Turkey. And, in fact, Dennis Hastert, when he was speaker, took it off the agenda because Bill Clinton asked him to do it as president.

Speaker Pelosi said yesterday, well, there's never been a good time for this that the protection of our troops comes first. But when she came 20 years ago to Congress, it wasn't the right time because the Soviet Union; then it wasn't the right time because of Gulf War I; now, not the right time because of Gulf War II. And she seemed quite uncomfortable as she said she - had said she would bring it up as it passed the committee and it passed the committee.

Both sides seem very uncomfortable with this, Steve. The Republicans and the president are saying, look, terrible things happened in Turkey in 1915, but we don't want to offend the current Turkish government by passing this resolution. The Democrats are saying we know that this is a tough time but we really need to make the statement about American principles and values. I think that the Turks are making it clear that this is going to be a very, very disruptive vote. And we'll see if there is anyway of trying to put it aside.

: A dispute that predates what is now modern Turkey itself.

ROBERTS: Totally. And you know, I covered Turkey for years, Steve, and the truth is, nothing gets them more upset than this discussion of the Armenians - other than what they think is the other American opposition to Turkey, which is they consider that there's a big Greek lobby here and a big Armenian lobby here in this country and that they never get a fair break. That's the view in Turkey.

: I want to ask next about the presidential contenders. This is the time of year - well, the time of the election cycle when you have Democrats going after Democrats and also Republicans going after Republicans.

ROBERTS: And this week and it was really more of the Republicans going after Republicans. What we're dealing with here is the fact that the other Republican candidates can't get over the fact that Rudy Giuliani stays in first place in all of the polls. And so Mitt Romney started the attack of saying he represented the Republican wing of the Republican Party, echoing Howard Dean from four years ago on the Democratic side, giving John McCain the opportunity to go after him and say all the things he did that were not Republican, giving Romney the chance to say, but McCain supported me for governor of Massachusetts. You're going to see all this infighting because what they're really trying to do is knock down Giuliani and they can't figure out how to do it.

: Okay. Thanks very much.

That's NPR's Cokie Roberts who joins us every Monday morning.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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