Monday, July 10, 2006

President Bush's First

national politics
Rove: Bush to veto DeGette bill

By John Aloysius Farrell
Post Washington Bureau Chief

President Bush will likely cast the first veto of his presidency if the Senate, as expected, passes legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, White House aide Karl Rove said today.

"The president is emphatic about this," Rove - Bush's top political advisor and architect of his 2000 and 2004 campaigns - said in a meeting with the editorial board of The Denver Post.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. If the Senate approves the bill it would go to the president's desk.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who backs the bill, has said he will try to bring it up for a Senate vote soon.

"It is something we would, frankly, like to avoid," Rove said when asked if the White House would welcome, or dread, vetoing legislation passed by a Republican Congress, especially on so emotional an issue as embryonic stem cell research.

But Rove said that he believes the legislation will pass the Senate with more than 60 votes this month, "and as a result the president would, as he has previously said emphatically, veto the Castle bill."

"I'm appalled that Bush would use the first veto of his presidency to veto a bill that could help 110 million people and their families," DeGette said today after being informed of Rove's remarks.

On another volatile issue - congressional attempts to reform the nation's immigration system - Rove said that immigration legislation had to be "comprehensive" to win Bush's support, but that more controversial proposals like a temporary-worker program might be phased in as the U.S. improves its border security.

Rove said that the behind-the-scene talks between House and Senate negotiators were making "good" progress toward an immigration compromise and that there is still a chance that a bill could be passed before the November election.

In a wide-ranging, 90-minute interview, Rove also defended the Bush administration's policy in Iraq and predicted that Republicans would maintain control of both the House and the Senate in the November election.

The Bush administration's stem cell policy, adopted in 2001, has been to allow federal research funding only for existing lines of embryonic stem cells.

Researchers and patients groups have complained that the policy hinders vital research into treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

The stem cell legislation is not likely to become law, Rove said, because backers lack the votes needed - two-thirds of each house of Congress - to override a veto.

"We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life," Rove said. Recent research, he said, shows that researchers "have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

If Bush vetoes the stem cell bill, "we will try to override it," DeGette said, adding that support among lawmakers is growing.

Castle and DeGette have requested a meeting with Bush to present their case. "I still hold out hope that the president would give us that courtesy for a meeting," she said.

Rove was in Colorado to speak Sunday at an Aspen Institute forum and to attend several political events, including a Republican gathering tonight in Parker.

Addressing immigration at the editorial board meeting, Rove was receptive to proposals by some congressional Republicans to establish checkpoints at ports of entry to the United States, where existing illegal immigrants would have to go to register, pay a penalty and show proof of employment.

He said that such checkpoints didn't necessarily have to be on the border, but could be located at airports in Denver or Los Angeles, for example, or at ports of entry like New Orleans.

Comprehensive reform is needed because illegal immigrants will inevitably find ways to enter the United States, so long as wages are so high here when compared to other countries.

"You cannot control the border. ... We don't have enough resources," he said. "You've got to do it all together."

Rove said that he advises GOP candidates to back the president's comprehensive approach, despite the fierce opposition of hard-liners within the Republican Party such as Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton.

"I cannot see a single district in which a Republican is going to be advantaged by opposing a comprehensive solution," said Rove.

When asked about the November election, Rove expressed confidence that the Republicans will weather the recent dip in public opinion.

"They are not going to be able to run the table," Rove said, when asked about Democratic hopes to seize the Senate. He predicted that that the GOP would pull off some "surprise" upsets of its own.

And though the public is sour on the ongoing costs of the war, the new Iraqi government "looks like (it will be) able to get this job done," Rove said. As long as there are signs of progress, "at the end of the day, ... the American people do not want the U.S. to be defeated."

Christa Marshall of The Denver Post contributed to this story.

As you proceed through the conference over the next few days, you may
> notice
> me
> and some of my peers on the autism spectrum, and some of our non-autistic
> allies, wearing pink ribbons. The ribbons are in memory of Katie
> McCarron,
> the
> 3-year-old autistic girl who was killed this past Mother's Day weekend --
> and
> the ribbons are also in sympathy with her father and grandparents, who
> loved
> her very much. You may have heard or read news accounts of the tragedy.
> Mike McCarron, Katie's grandfather, wrote about Katie, on the Autism-Hub,
> a
> consortium of blogs, or Internet journals, coordinated by a father of
> another
> little autistic girl, in England, whose family has become close to the
> McCarrons in the time since the tragedy.
> Mr. McCarron wrote as follows:
> "I would like to say something about Katie. Some newspapers have reported
> that
> this was done to end Katie's pain; let me assure you that Katie was not in
> pain. She was a beautiful, precious and happy little girl. Each day she
> was
> showered with love and returned that love with hugs, kisses and
> laughter...
> "She enjoyed having her grandmother dress her in new little outfits and
> dresses,
> and I think this is important:
> "We have four grand-daughters; my wife loves to buy them frilly little
> dresses.
> When my wife went into a store she would never ask for three normal
> dresses
> and
> one autistic dress.
> "I think we need to be very sensitive to the special needs of these
> children
> but
> at the same time not be oblivious to the numerous typical traits that are
> also
> developing. Katie was first and foremost a little girl...
> "Katie loved the park, the swings, the slides and being outside. She
> played
> with
> her dolls and toys; she loved "teletubbies" and brought joy to all
> those
> that
> had actual contact with her. Yes, she was autistic. Developmentally she
> was
> behind other children. But her small victories would create unbelievable
> joy
> for those who loved her. I can not describe the ecstasy of having her
> little
> arms around my neck or of watching her and my son roll around on the floor
> playing in sheer happiness."
> Mr. McCarron sent the writers of the Autism-Hub blogs some beautiful
> pictures of
> Katie. He asked that the pictures, and Katie's memory, not be used in any
> way
> to lament the "lack of services" that some people incorrectly blame
> her
> death. Lack of services was apparently not an issue for her or her
> family.
> And he asked that they not be used to call her a burden or paint her death
> as
> "understandable" or anything remotely close to that. Rather, that
> be
> remembered for how much she was loved, and how much love she gave.
> If you would like to join us in wearing a pink ribbon in Katie's memory,
> look
> for those of us throughout the conference carrying rolls of ribbon, boxes
> of
> safety pins, and kindergarten scissors, and just ask. The McCarrons have
> a
> roll of ribbon too, and are wearing it.
> ===========================================================
> We are hoping that this small gesture will help spur constructive change
> in
> the
> tragic and desperate ways autism and parenting autistic kids are all too
> often
> characterized, by the media, by the general public, and by autism
> organizations, including our own.