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A stand against Christmas

One legislator called it a protest against the president's veto of an SCHIP expansion.

WASHINGTON - Rep. Jim McDermott says he is no Grinch, even though he voted against Christmas.

The Democrat from Washington state says he was protesting an expected veto of a children's health-insurance bill when he voted against a resolution recognizing the importance of Christmas.

"While the Republicans are passing a resolution celebrating Christmas, the president was vetoing health care for children," McDermott said yesterday. "There's a little bit of irony going on around here."

The Christmas measure was approved, 372-9, Tuesday night. Democrats cast all the no votes. Beside McDermott, the other dissenting votes came from Reps. Gary Ackerman and Yvette Clarke of New York; Barbara Lee, Pete Stark and Lynn Woolsey of California; Diana DeGette of Colorado; Alcee Hastings of Florida; and Bobby Scott of Virginia.

Ten lawmakers, including Republican Mike Pence of Indiana, voted present. Forty lawmakers were absent.

McDermott said President Bush's veto Wednesday meant that "10,000 kids in my state" would be left without health coverage. The veto was the second time Bush rejected a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase spending for the program.

"I guess I'm the only guy left in Congress who still gets angry," McDermott said, "but there are some things that are just not right."