House doesn’t override SCHIP veto

The House today failed to override President Bush’s December veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization and expansion. The vote was 260-152 in favor, but a veto override requires a two-thirds majority (290 votes).

Here’s what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, had to say in urging her colleagues to override the veto:

pelosi12-14-06.jpgFor the past year we’ve been talking about the subject of how we make America healthier, how we bring many more children who are eligible to be enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. We’ve had the debates, we’ve had the outside advocacy of the March of Dimes, of the Easter Seals, of the AMA, the AARP, of the Families USA, the YWCA, of the Catholic Hospitals Association, almost any organization that you can name, that has anything to do with the health of the American people, has endorsed the legislation that we have before us. That is important to the children, their families, to their communities, to the economic stability of their states, who have to provide health insurance for these children.

In the last few days, we’ve all been working together in a bipartisan way to come up with an economic stimulus package. The recognition that we need a stimulus package points to the need further for this SCHIP legislation to become law. Let’s make us working in a bipartisan way on the stimulus package a model for how we approach other issues as well.

This SCHIP package has had strong bipartisan support from the start, in the House and in the Senate. In fact, the Senate has a veto-proof majority. Senator Hatch and Senator Grassley have been major architects of this legislation, two very distinguished Republican leaders in the United States Senate.

The issue comes down to what is happening in America’s households today. Unemployment is up, housing starts are down. The price of gasoline and food and health care is up, the stock market is down. So the indicators that some that are felt very closely and intimately by America’s working families and some that are felt by our economy, all point to the need for us to take a new direction. And that new direction says, ‘What can we do that is fiscally sound, that meets the needs of the children, that has bipartisan support? And strengthens our country by improving the health of our people?’

One of the things that we can do is take the lead. Many children have come here to advocate on behalf of all children in our country, whether it was through the March of Dimes, Easter Seals, or other organizations. And that is to vote to override the President’s veto. Let’s remove all doubt in anyone’s mind that this Congress of the United States understands our responsibility to the children, understands our responsibility to the future.

We’ve had the debate. We know the facts, we know the figures. It’s just a decision that people have to make about what is inside of them, about what their priorities are. And I hope the message from this Congress will be that that we care about the children and we care about enough about them that we will vote to override this veto.

Said House Minority Leader John Boehner, D-Ohio, after the vote:

boehner2.jpgAfter two failures to override the President’s vetoes of their flawed SCHIP bill, I hope congressional Democrats finally end the political games that have dominated this debate and work with Republicans to focus on low-income children first. The Majority’s bill would shortchange low-income children and expand SCHIP coverage to illegal immigrants, adults, and those who already have private health insurance. This is particularly irresponsible at a time when our economy is slowing down and American families are feeling the strain from rising costs of living.

Democrats and Republicans alike established SCHIP a decade ago to ensure our nation’s low-income children have access to high-quality health care. Likewise, just a month ago, both parties overwhelmingly voted to extend SCHIP into 2009 and cover the program’s funding shortfall. Unfortunately, that spirit of cooperation has consistently taken a back seat to the Majority’s ongoing efforts to politicize this issue in order to move more Americans from private insurance to government-run health care. As we have been for the past year, Republicans are ready to work in a bipartisan way to reauthorize SCHIP and keep its focus on low-income children. After this latest failed attempt to enact its flawed legislation, I hope the Majority is finally ready to do the same.

You say “poh-TAY-toe,” I say “poh-TAH-toe.” More after the jump…

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, before the vote (and you’ve just gotta love that last paragraph!):

pete-stark.jpgI urge my colleagues to vote to override President Bush’s veto on what is, to my way of looking at it, bipartisan SCHIP legislation. We had 43 Republicans in the House voting with us and 17 Republicans in the other body voting with us — many of whom participated in the crafting of this compromise.

It is not exactly what the distinguished Ranking Member from Texas asked; it takes people below 300% of poverty — below fifty odd thousand bucks for a family of three. The adults will be removed from the program in a year, not tomorrow. It makes an effort to reduce crowding out and only citizens and legal residents are eligible and there is some means by which states can enforce that.

Children don’t choose to be born into families that lack health insurance – unlike those of us in Congress who have good health care benefits for our families. We should be able to give the children the healthcare they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

It becomes more urgent now that we are in a recession–perhaps in free fall. We should provide this safety net for families; it probably is the most urgent concern of a parent.

We are going to soon address a bipartisan economic stimulus package. It seems to me that if we can come together on that and deal with tax credits or tax relief and additional food stamps or additional unemployment insurance, then I don’t follow the logic that would say that we shouldn’t deal with young children’s health care needs.

Furthermore, I am advised today by my six-year-old son — who I must admit started out today with a fever of about 100 so I kept him out of school. He said, “Dad, if we don’t pass this health insurance, they may fire all the Republicans.” I’d hate to see that. I urge my colleagues to vote to override President Bush’s SCHIP veto. With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

UPDATE @ 3:06 P.M. WEDNESDAY: And to prove you can make campaign hay out of anything, this just arrived from Doug Thornell of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee regarding Dean Andal, the former Assemblyman and state Board of Equalization member who’ll be challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in November:

Dean Andal is already putting President Bush and partisanship ahead of California’s children by remaining silent on the President’s effort to block the bipartisan effort to provide affordable health care for our kids. Dean Andal’s indecisiveness on supporting children’s health care, even while family budgets in California are stretched beyond their breaking point, shows his commitment to the status quo in Washington.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.