Members of the Senate voted 68-31 Thursday to pass a bill that would increase funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by $25 billion, or an average of $5 billion per year, over 5 years.
The bill, which took the form of an amendment to H.R. 976, the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007, would come up with the cash for the SCHIP funding increase by increasing federal tobacco taxes.
The bill would increase total program funding to $50 billion over 5 years.
The SCHIP authorization bill is set to expire Sept. 30. The program now receives $5 billion in funding per year.
Members of the House have approved a bill that would increase funding by a total of $35 billion over 5 years, to a total of $60 billion, by raising tobacco taxes and reallocating some money now set to go to the Medicare Advantage program.
President Bush is supporting efforts to increase SCHIP spending to an average of $6 billion per year, or $30 billion over 5 years. and has threatened to threaten to veto both the House and Senate SCHIP bills.
Supporters of the House or Senate SCHIP bills would need 67 votes to overturn a veto if all 100 senators cast votes, and they would need 66 votes if a senator were absent. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who is recovering from a stroke, has been absent from all Senate votes this year.