House Democrats Delay Vote To Overturn Kids’ Insurance Veto
The House on Wednesday won a procedural vote that allowed them to postpone until Oct. 18 a vote to override a veto of legislation that would reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, CQ Today reports. President Bush vetoed the bill on Wednesday.
According to CQ Today, the delay is intended to give Democrats and bill supporters time to "make a 'no' vote as politically unpalatable as possible for Republicans" (Wayne, CQ Today, 10/3).
The compromise bill would have provided an additional $35 billion in funding over the next five years and brought total spending on the program to $60 billion. The additional funding would have been paid for by a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax.
The House last week voted 265-159 to approve the measure, with 45 Republicans voting in favor and eight Democrats voting against the bill. The Senate on Thursday voted 67-29 to approve the legislation, with 18 of the 49 Senate Republicans voting in favor.
The program expired on Sunday (California Healthline, 10/3).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the two-week delay will allow time for Democrats and outside groups to pressure Republicans that voted against the bill (Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).
However, Republican House leaders said they are confident they will be able to sustain the veto (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 10/4).
Democrats said they have received commitments from two more lawmakers to vote to override Bush's veto: Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), who missed the initial vote, and Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), who opposed the bill (Gay Stolberg/Hulse, New York Times, 10/4).
Boren said he would vote to override the veto after spending last weekend in his district, which includes rural, low-income communities (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
Other Republican lawmakers targeted to vote for the override include Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Jim Saxton (R-N.J.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), according to USA Today (Jackson/Kiely, USA Today, 10/4).
In addition, Democrats are "prodding 11 of their own" who either voted against the bill or missed the vote, according to McClatchy/Philadelphia Inquirer. Democrats need 25 more votes in favor of the bill to override Bush's veto (Pugh/Tavel, McClatchy/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).
However, 147 House Republicans have signed a pledge that they will vote to sustain a presidential veto on any spending bill.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, if "those promises hold, that would be enough to prevent" a veto override for the SCHIP bill (Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor, 10/4).
Rank-and-file Democrats "aren't optimistic" that they will be able to override Bush's veto, according to CQ Today.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) said, "We're certainly trying hard to override it, and we hope that we can, but it's certainly not likely" (CQ Today, 10/3).
However, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said that the longer Democrats try "to maximize their political advantage" by delaying the override vote, the easier it will be for Republicans to convince the public that Democrats are unable to lead (Wegner, CongressDaily, 10/3).
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that the delay tactics will backfire, adding, "The more days this is out there, the more comfortable (Republicans) get with their position. They're getting plenty of time to explain what they are for and what's wrong with the bill" (CQ Today, 10/3).
It "remains unclear" how Democrats will proceed with the legislation if they are unable to override the veto, as well as if "other viable legislative vehicles could be hashed out," CongressDaily reports (Koffler/Bourge, CongressDaily, 10/3).
Democrats said that they will re-pass the bill with minor changes and send it back to Bush (Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
The Senate, which has enough votes to override the veto, will not act on the bill until the House votes (Canham, Salt Lake Tribune, 10/4).
Democratic leadership is debating how many times they can hold a floor vote on the bill, according to Senate and House sources. Some Democrats say that a one-year extension of the program would allow Congress to re-pass the bill under a potentially Democratic president (Koffler/Bourge, CongressDaily, 10/3).
Bush on Wednesday, after vetoing the bill, traveled to West Hempfield Township, Pa., "to make his case for the veto directly to the American people," the New York Times reports. Bush spoke via a nationally televised chat with a Republican audience composed of members of a local Chamber of Commerce group (New York Times, 10/4).
Bush said, "I do want Republicans and Democrats to come together to support a bill that focuses on the poor children." He said that he is "more willing to work with members of both parties from both houses," adding, "If they need a little more money in the bill to help us get the objective of getting help for poor children, (I'm) more than willing to sit down with the leaders and find a way to do so" (Pulizzi, Dow Jones, 10/3).
Bush criticized the compromise bill, saying that he believes in putting "[p]oor kids first" and "in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system" (Espo, AP/Houston Chronicle, 10/4).
Bush said, "The policies of the government ought to be to help poor children and to focus on poor children, and the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage," noting that "that's where the philosophical divide comes in" (Issenberg/Milligan, Boston Globe, 10/4).
The bill "would move health care in this country in the wrong direction" and "would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year," Bush said, adding, "If this bill were enacted, one out of every three children moving onto government coverage would be moving from private coverage."
Separately, White House spokesperson Dana Perino on Wednesday at a press event said that Democrats "only sent a bill that they knew the president couldn't sign and then used a lot of different ways to demagogue the issue against the president" (Ward, Washington Times, 10/4).
Critics of Bush say "he chose the wrong place to draw the line on spending and a federal role in health care," and "some of his most vocal critics are fellow Republicans," according to the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4). Bush's decision to veto SCHIP "baffles" and "angers" some Republicans who believes that the administration "should have picked a less sympathetic program for an all-out fight with Democrats," according to the AP/Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
In addition, "[d]rawing the line on spending on the SCHIP bill, while the Iraq war rages on, is a matter of too little, too late, with too little explanation to voters," according to Republicans who oppose the veto, the AP/Journal-Constitution reports.
However, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) said that Bush's veto "is an opportunity in the next few months for the Republicans to regain their brand." Feeney added, "We can't win elections nationally if more Americans think Democrats are more fiscally responsible than Republicans" (Babington, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/4).
House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) in a statement said, "Today, the president showed the nation his true priorities: $700 billion for a war in Iraq, but no health care for low-income kids; $50 billion in subsidies for huge oil companies, but no health care for low-income kids; $8 billion lost to waste, fraud, abuse, and no-bid contracts in Iraq, but no health care for low-income kids; and billions for schools and roads and clinics in Iraq, but no health care for low-income kids in America" (Pulizzi, Dow Jones, 10/3).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "Congress will fight hard to override President Bush's heartless veto" (Espo, AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 10/4). Reid continued, "Never has it been clearer how detached President Bush is from the priorities of the American people," adding, "By vetoing a bipartisan bill to renew the successful [SCHIP], President Bush is denying health care to millions of low-income kids in America" (Loven, AP/New York Post, 10/4).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the veto showed "a stunning lack of compassion for some of the most vulnerable members of our society" (Washington Times, 10/4).
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a key negotiator for the compromise bill, said, "Frankly, I think the president has had pretty poor advice on this. I can answer every objection that they've made, and I'm very favorable to the president. I know he's compassionate. I know he's concerned about these kids, but he's been sold a bill of goods" (Abramowitz/Weisman, Washington Post, 10/4).
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "Democrats now face an important choice: Either work with Republicans to renew this program or continue to play politics on the backs of our nation's children" (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 10/4).
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that the veto proves that "these children are invisible to this president" (Washington Times, 10/4).
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said that the veto reflects "a callousness of priorities that is offensive to the ideals we hold as Americans" (McClatchy/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) called the veto unconscionable (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 10/4).
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that Bush made "the right call" in vetoing the bill, adding, "The American people have rebelled against out-of-control spending. If they can find a legitimate way to pay for [SCHIP], I would consider it," but "what was supposed to be for low-income Americans is now up to 400% of the poverty level" (Washington Times, 10/4).
McCain called the cigarette tax increase "a phony smoke-and-mirrors way of paying for" SCHIP (Silva, Chicago Tribune, 10/4).
ABC News video of Bush's comments on the veto is available online.
ABC News video of Clinton's comments on the veto is available online. Expanded ABC News coverage also is available online.
C-SPAN video of a House Republican press conference on the veto is available online.
C-SPAN video of a bipartisan Senate press conference on the veto is available online.
Several broadcast programs reported on the veto. Summaries appear below.
- CBS' "Evening News": The segment includes comments from Bush and Emanuel (Axelrod, "Evening News," CBS, 10/4). Video of the segment is available online.
- CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight": The segment includes comments from Bush and Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Ore.) (Henry, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," CNN, 10/3). Video of the segment is available online. The program on Wednesday also reported on reaction to the veto. The segment includes comments from Pelosi; Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); and Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) (Bash, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," CNN, 10/3). Video of the segment is available online. A transcript of the complete program is available online.
- MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews": The segment includes a discussion with MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow, a talk show host for Air America Radio (Matthews, "Hardball with Chris Matthews," MSNBC, 10/3). Video of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes comments from Bush and Stan Dorn, senior research associate at the Urban Institute (Rovner, "All Things Considered," NPR, 10/3). Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online. The program on Wednesday also included a discussion with E.J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post, and David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, about potential political implications of the veto (Siegel, "All Things Considered," NPR, 10/3). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Day to Day": The segment includes a discussion with NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea about the veto (Brand, "Day to Day," NPR, 10/3). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Bush, Hatch and Grassley (Gonyea, "Morning Edition," NPR, 10/4). Audio of the segment is available online.
- PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer": The segment includes a discussion with Emanuel and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) (Woodruff, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 10/3). Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online. Video will be available Thursday afternoon.
- PBS' "Nightly Business Report": The segment includes comments from Bush; Hatch; Robert Moffit, director of health policy studies at the Heritage Foundation; and Diane Rowland, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (Gersh, "Nightly Business Report," PBS, 10/3). A transcript of the segment is available online.