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Reid: No More Negotiations on SCHIP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) closed the door to negotiations with President Bush on a vetoed children’s health bill Thursday, saying Congress already has given as much ground as it can.

“We’re not going to compromise,” Reid told reporters Thursday. “If he’s hoping for that, he better hope for something else, like getting our troops home from Iraq.”

Reid and other Democratic leaders said it would not be possible to secure House passage for any bill smaller than the $35 billion measure Bush vetoed Wednesday. The House originally proposed spending $50 billion over five years, but Bush has proposed spending only $5 billion in that amount of time. The president said Wednesday that he might be willing to add a “little more money” in talks with Democrats.

Reid flatly rejected that.

“That is an insult — an insult. The House … basically took our position with very few changes. You cannot wring another ounce of compromise out of it,” Reid said. “If he thinks he can waltz in here with his secretary of Health and Human Services and sweet talk us, he can’t. The man’s out of touch with reality.”

Meanwhile, Reid also indicated that Congress would begin investigations into a New York Times report that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other Justice Department officials secretly authorized the CIA to conduct interrogations that involved heavy-handed tactics, such as simulated drowning and frigid conditions.

“It’s wrong and we have to get to the bottom of it. I think we should have a full, thorough investigation of what Gonzales and his minions did to override the wishes of Congress,” Reid said.

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