The House on Oct. 18 failed to override President Bush’s veto of legislation substantively expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan. The effort to override failed, 273-156, meaning that the Senate will not vote on the override.
The decision likely sets up continued negotiations between the two sides on the issue. The current program expires Nov. 16.
In a last-minute but futile plea to persuade reluctant Republicans to abandon President Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., said, “The President is isolated in this, don’t join him in his isolation.”
Closing the two-hour debate for Republicans, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, President Bush vetoed this bill “because we [Congress] didn’t put poor children first.”
He argued that Republicans voted “no” because they “haven’t been afforded the opportunity to sit down together” to prepare a compromise bill. “I hope that the opportunity to sit down and work together comes today after this vote,” he said.
The legislation the president vetoed would have increased the program by $35 billion over 5 years, to $60 billion, and covered an estimated 10 million people. The program that expired Sept. 30 authorized $25 billion in spending over 5 years.
Democrats say the increased costs would be paid for by a 61-cent increase in the tax on tobacco products.
President Bush has proposed increasing the program by $1 billion a year for 5 years. Bush said on Oct. 17 that he vetoed the bill because it would “encourage people to move from private medicine to the public.”
But in a May report, the Congressional Budget Office said that in order to serve the same number of people currently enrolled in the program would cost $13.4 billion over 5 years, for total funding of $38.4 billion between 2008 to 2012.