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Senate Passes SCHIP Bill

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Members of the Senate voted 67-29 Thursday to approve H.R. 976, a compromise version of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act bill.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, arguing that it is too expensive and could crowd out private children’s insurance coverage.

Members of the House voted 265-159 to approve the bill Tuesday.

Current authorization for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to expire Sunday.

The version of H.R. 976 that the Senate passed would increase funding by $35 billion over 5 years, to a total of $60 billion.

Bush, who wants to increase the 5-year SCHIP funding total by just $5 billion, to $10 billion, has asked Congress to deal with the impasse by sending him a temporary SCHIP extension bill.

If all lawmakers who voted for H.R. 976 this week voted for it in the wake of a veto, supporters would get the two-thirds majority they need to pass the bill in the Senate but apparently would fall short in the House.