Democratic Leaders in Congress Drop Plans for Vote on Kids’ Insurance
Congressional Democrats said they will not hold a vote on legislation to renew and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program this year, citing an inability to override a promised veto by President Bush, among other issues, the New York Times reports.
The "fight over the children's insurance program prefigures a larger legislative debate, expected to start next year, over the future of health care and the role of government in providing it," the Times reports.
President Bush vetoed two earlier versions of the SCHIP bill, saying they represented the first step toward "government-run health care for every American."
The House sustained both vetoes. The Times reports that Democrats cited several reasons for postponing the vote.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the estimated cost of the bill has increased, but projected revenue from higher tobacco taxes to fund the expansion is about the same. CBO also estimated that the bill would reduce the number of uninsured U.S. children by 4.4 million by 2013, but that 2.3 million children would leave private health coverage plans to enroll in government programs.
Under current rules, Congress would have to identify ways to offset the costs. In addition, lawmakers said that there are more pressing issues to address in the session, which is expected to last three to four weeks.
According to the Times, SCHIP has become an issue in some congressional elections, and although some Republicans "might switch sides and vote for the bill, in an effort to win the approbation of voters," supporters do not believe they could gather enough votes to override a veto.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) said, "We are not going to change any votes on the children's health insurance bill. We still don't have enough to override a veto," adding, "Those who opposed this bill can face the voters and explain why they believe 10 million kids should not get health coverage" (Pear, New York Times, 9/8).