President Bush has vetoed the House-Senate compromise bill to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The bill would have provided an additional $34.7 billion over five years funded by federal tobacco tax money, and it would have extended coverage to about 10 million children. The measure cleared the Senatebut not the Housewith enough votes to override a presidential veto.
The presidents veto is a slap in the face to Americas children. For millions of children in working families, it says, No healthcare for you, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA in a written statement.
Administration officials have argued that the bill would have moved children from families earning up to $83,000 per year into government insurance, and promoted socialized medicine.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said last week that a compromise between the White House and Congress to reauthorize the 10-year-old program was still possible. Bush on Sept. 29 signed a budget resolution that would temporarily extend funding for the program, specifically helping 13 states whose SCHIP allotments have dried up.
In a written statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) vowed that Congress would continue to work on overriding the veto. In the coming days, we will do what the president has not done: We will stand up for American children in need, Baucus said. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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