Kids March to Stop Bush SCHIP Veto

Kids took health care into their own hands Monday, marching to the White House and pleading with the president not to fulfill his veto threat of the $35 billion children's health insurance expansion passed by both houses of Congress last week.

Twenty-five children, and at least as many adults, pulled nine red Radio Flyer wagons loaded with more than a million petitions to the White House gates chanting "Health care, not warfare," "Care for kids" and "Sign the bill!"

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., joined their rally and spoke out against the president's expected veto, calling the SCHIP bill "the test of greatness for a nation is how it cares for its children. On that issue, we put children first. That is why this legislation is so important."

Questioning Bush's rationale for veto, Kennedy added: "Anytime that this president wants to go to the doctor, he goes to the Walter Reed Army Hospital or the Bethesda Naval Hospital. These are run by the military. The White House says we can't have health care because it's run by the government. Who in the world do you think runs the Walter Reed Hospital and the Navy Bethesda Hospital that the president goes to? It's run by the Defense Department and they find it quite satisfactory."

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., urged the president to reconsider, indirectly citing the bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to pass it.

"There's only one place in Washington where they don't want this bill signed and that's right across the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.," Dingell said. "George W. Bush, sign this bill! It's good for the kids. It's good for this country. Sign this bill!"

Carolyn Taylor Chester, a member of the Service Employees International Union that sponsored the march, spoke of her personal need for the children's health insurance program. "We need SCHIP. We can't do without it. Bush says no person left behind. Well, people will be left behind without SCHIP."

"Sometimes I get sick and have to go to the doctor," Chester's son Keith said. "I want to see him instead of going to the emergency room when I'm sick. Please keep SCHIP!"

As the group unloaded some of the petitions at the White House gates, officers told them to take the petitions away. The kids and adults cleaned up their mess, packed up their wagons and left, promising to find another way to get the petitions delivered to the president before his veto pen hit paper.

White House press secretary Dana Perino responded to the kid protesters, reiterating the president's position.

"I do believe that those children would agree with the president that the neediest children should be taken first. It's unfortunate if there's any misinformation being given to children. The president wants to expand this program and he wants to make sure that the states have what they need to provide for those children who don't qualify for Medicaid, but would still would qualify under the SCHIP program."

SCHIP legislation is expected to come from the speaker's office to the White House late today with the veto likely happening Tuesday.

ABC News' Jennifer Duck contributed to this report.

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