President Bush on Oct. 3 vetoed legislation that would have expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, sending the measure back to Congress where the veto could be overturned.
Speaking to reporters, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said the president “remains somebody who’s committed to expanding SCHIP” and hopes to work with congressional leaders to forge a new version of the legislation.
The legislation, known as HR 976, would have increased SCHIP funding to $60 billion over 5 years, far more than what the president sought. Additionally, the president has characterized the bill as a first step towards socialized healthcare and criticized it for raising the income limits for eligibility to allow families that he believes don’t need assistance to take advantage of it.
Congressional leaders blasted the president’s veto.
“Never has it been clearer how detached President Bush is from the priorities of the American people,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “By vetoing a bipartisan bill to renew the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program, President Bush is denying health care to millions of low-income kids in America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed that sentiment, saying the president “used his cruel veto pen to say ‘I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.’”
She added that Congress would “continue to work with a bipartisan majority in Congress and 43 governors from across the country to increase support for SCHIP in the House so we can override the veto” and provide coverage to millions of children.
“The President chose to block a bill with strong bipartisan consensus–which has so much potential for good–to force Congress to mount a veto override effort,” Pelosi said. “We remain committed to making SCHIP into law–with or without the President’s support.”