New War Spending Measure Includes Health Care Funds
The House on Thursday voted 221-205 to approve a supplemental appropriations bill (HR 2206) for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes funds for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, health care for veterans and flu pandemic preparedness, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 5/11).
President 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 new version of the bill initially would provide $42.8 billion in funds for military operations, which would last two to three months, and would require a separate vote in July to provide an additional $52.8 billion (California Healthline, 5/10).
Bush has indicated that he would veto the legislation (Young, The Hill, 5/11).
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said that he has not decided on details of the new Senate version of the bill. "There are 150 scenarios of how we deal with this," Reid said, adding, "We do not know yet how we're going to proceed on this" (Yachnin, Roll Call, 5/10).
In related news, the disagreement between Congress and Bush over the supplemental appropriations bill could leave "state governors and low-income children ... in the lurch waiting for money to maintain" SCHIP, The Hill reports.
The earlier version of the legislation vetoed by Bush would have provided $750 million to address expected budget deficits for SCHIP in 14 states. The new House version of the bill would provide $100 million less than the earlier version because a re-evaluation by HHS found that only 11 states face expected budget deficits for SCHIP, an estimate confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a House Appropriations Committee spokesperson.
The National Governors Association on Tuesday sent a letter to congressional leaders that highlighted the importance of the additional funds for SCHIP. The letter -- signed by NGA Chair and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), NGA Vice Chair and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) -- said, "We write to urge you to take whatever action necessary to ensure that a bipartisan funding proposal that protects those currently served by the program gets enacted quickly." The letter said that NGA seeks to have the additional funds for SCHIP signed into law by Memorial Day, May 28 (The Hill, 5/11).