Democrats’ Budget Expands Children’s Health Insurance
The Senate on Thursday voted 52-40 to adopt a final $2.9 trillion fiscal year 2008 budget resolution, which includes an additional $50 billion to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, after the House voted 214-209 to approve the budget resolution, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Taylor, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/18).
Senate and House negotiators on Wednesday announced an agreement on the budget resolution, which includes $21 billion more for domestic discretionary spending than President Bush has requested (California Healthline, 5/17).
Two Senate Republicans, Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine), voted in favor of the budget resolution (Dennis, Roll Call, 5/17). No House Republicans voted in favor of the budget resolution (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/18). Thirteen House Democrats voted against the budget resolution (Roll Call, 5/17).
The budget resolution includes 23 "reserve funds" to provide additional funds for SCHIP, health care for veterans and other domestic programs (Cohn , CongressDaily, 5/18). In addition, the budget resolution would restore pay-as-you-go rules last in effect in 2001 that would prohibit tax cuts or spending increases to entitlement programs without offsets in other areas in the budget.
However, the rules "may be waived when Democrats this year renew" SCHIP, the AP/Journal-Constitution reports (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/18).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "In the past several years under Republican leadership, the budgets have been bloated and stale in their thinking. Today, we have a budget that is lean and fresh in its thinking."
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said, "The American people expect and deserve a government that is responsive to their needs and that also lives within its means. This is exactly what we intend to deliver" (Cohn , CongressDaily, 5/18).
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said, "There is absolutely no attempt to address the entitlement crisis that we're facing -- the fact that our children and our children's children are going to have to pay a cost, which they simply will not be able to afford" (AP/Washington Times, 5/18).
In other budget news, the Senate on Thursday voted 94-1 to approve a "placeholder" supplemental appropriations bill (HR 2206) for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, "paving the way for a conference committee to wrap up next week," CongressDaily reports (Schneider/Kivlan, CongressDaily, 5/17).
Bush on May 1 vetoed an earlier version of the bill because of opposition to provisions that called for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008, as well as the inclusion of funds for nonmilitary programs. The House on May 2 failed to override the veto.
The House last week voted 221-205 to approve a $124.2 billion version of the bill that includes funds for SCHIP, health care for veterans and flu pandemic preparedness (California Healthline, 5/11). The House version of the bill exceeds the amount that Bush has requested by $21 billion (Cohn , CongressDaily, 5/18).
The Senate version of the bill, which includes no funds, incorporates the language of a resolution that the Senate voted 96-2 to approve in March. The resolution, drafted by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), expresses the "sense of the Senate that Congress should not take steps to undermine the safety of the armed forces," CQ Today reports (Higa, CQ Today, 5/17).
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appointed conferees for final negotiations on the bill. Senate conferees include Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Byrd, Appropriations Committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
Bush likely will ask that conferees eliminate "at least a portion" of the funds for nonmilitary programs from the final bill, CongressDaily reports (Cohn , CongressDaily, 5/18).