The House by a vote of 273-156 failed to override President Bushs veto of a bill to reauthorize and expand the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. The count was 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.
The bill would have added nearly $35 billion to the programs baseline of $25 billion over five years, covering 10 million children. The administration has sought a narrower approach, adding just $5 billion to fund SCHIP at $30 billion over five years.
According to news reports, at least seven Democrats who originally voted against the bill changed their vote today. Still, House Democrats were unable to obtain enough Republican votes to override the veto. The bill would have added more adults, and provided coverage to illegal immigrants and what the Internal Revenue Service calls high-income families to the SCHIP rolls, said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in opposition to the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) countered that the bill would not provide benefits for illegal immigrants. Dont use that as an excuse to deny 10 million children access to SCHIP, she said.
Democratic supporters argued that more money was needed to sustain SCHIP to keep currently enrolled children from losing coverage. Bush earlier this week reiterated his willingness to work with Congress to funnel additional money into SCHIP, beyond the 20% increase he proposed in his budget for the program. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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