Democrats: Concessions on Kids’ Health Might Affect Caucus Support
Democratic whips on Thursday met to discuss how a compromise State Children's Health Insurance Program bill being negotiated with Republicans might affect support from various caucuses, The Hill reports. Liberal House Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to party leadership warning that they are making too many concessions to Republicans on revisions to a bill that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP, according to The Hill.
The letter -- sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) from Congressional Black Caucus Chair Carolyn Kilpatrick (Mich.); Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joe Baca (Calif.); Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Mike Honda (Calif.); Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Hilda Solis (Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.); and Delegates Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands) and Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) -- states, "We are deeply concerned by the continued compromises that we may be asked to make on behalf of our communities; such compromises cause us to question our support for the overall package" (Kaplan, The Hill, 11/9). The letter also asks negotiators "not to concede further to Republican demands regarding citizenship documentation" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 11/9).
Some Democrats argue that the bill could lose the support of as many as 15 Democrats if further concessions to Republicans are made, The Hill reports. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) at the meeting expressed skepticism about further negotiations between House and Senate members, according to a Democratic lawmaker who attended the meeting.
Lawmakers on Thursday reconvened to continue negotiations on the bill (The Hill, 11/9). In recent meetings, lawmakers have encountered resistance over a provision to transition adults out of SCHIP and into Medicaid from lawmakers in states that provide SCHIP coverage to adults -- including New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota and New Mexico. Such states stand to lose millions in federal matching dollars, according to CongressDaily. In addition, some Republicans object to allowing states with waivers to continue to provide coverage to adults until the waivers expire (CongressDaily, 11/9).
House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) late this week joined negotiation talks at the request of other GOP members participating in the talks. Barton said that he is participating in the talks as a representative of the three-fourths of the Republican Conference who have not voted for any of the SCHIP bills.
"A bill that I can support has to be a bill that they can support, and hopefully the president can sign," Barton said. Barton said that even if the group can reach agreements on policy issues, he would like to revisit the funding mechanism included in the legislation (The Hill, 11/9).
Hoyer said that a final product must be completed on Friday to allow enough time for House and Senate floor votes next week. As of Thursday, negotiators were "trading paper" in an attempt to reach a compromise, according to a senior aide close to the talks, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 11/9).
- Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal: When Democrats won Congress a year ago, they "promised 'civility and bipartisanship,'" but "[i]nstead, they stiff-armed their Republican colleagues" and "refused a bipartisan compromise on an expansion" of SCHIP, Rove, a former adviser to Bush, writes in a Journal opinion piece. Democrats "wast[ed] precious time sending the president a bill they knew he would veto," and "they did this knowing that they wouldn't be able to override that veto," Rove writes. He continues, "Why? Because their pollsters told them putting the children's health care program at risk would score political points," adding, "Instead, it left them looking cynical." Rove concludes, "The Democratic victory in 2006 was narrow," and a "party that wins control by [such a] narrow margin can quickly see its fortunes reversed when it fails to act responsibly, fails to fulfill its promises and fails to lead" (Rove, Wall Street Journal, 11/9).
- Nicole Kazee, Washington Times: It is "time for [Democrats] to try a new strategy and stress the real advantage" of SCHIP: "It favors working parents and the businesses that employ them," Kazee, a doctoral student in political science at Yale University and a fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs and Demos, writes in a Times opinion piece. Kazee writes that "employees with health insurance -- and employees whose kids have health insurance -- are more productive and reliable than those without, regardless of who is paying the premiums," adding, "In other words, SCHIP takes the burden off the low-wage employers who find it difficult or even impossible to provide health insurance themselves." Kazee concludes, "A partnership between low-income workers and low-wage employers would be revolutionary -- and no doubt highly unsettling -- in our polarized, class-based political system," but "in failing to consider business as a potential ally, Democrats are threatening the future of the programs they hold most dear" (Kazee, Washington Times, 11/9).
PBS' "Now" on Friday is scheduled to include a report on the debate over SCHIP, including a discussion with Graeme Frost -- a 12-year-old SCHIP beneficiary who on Sept. 29 delivered Democrats' response to Bush's weekly radio address -- and his parents ("Now" Web site, 11/9). Additional information about the report is available online. Video of the report will be available after the broadcast. A broadcast schedule also is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.