President Bush today vetoed H.R. 3963, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007.

Bush, who vetoed an earlier State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill, H.R. 976, in October, says the new bill would cost too much and draw too many children who now have private health coverage into government programs

SCHIP now provides free or subsidized health coverage for about 7 million children.

The current SCHIP authorization law already has expired, and the program is operating under a temporary measure called a “continuing resolution.”

House members voted 211 to 180 to postpone consideration of the veto message, with all Republicans who voted voting against postponement and all but one Democrat who voted voting for postponement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the Democrats will be trying to reverse the veto, preparing to introduce a narrow temporary SCHIP extension bill, and also negotiating with Republican colleagues to come up with a broader bill if the veto stands.

“We want to protect the health care of the children who are on SCHIP now, and we’re working to expand that to the 10 million children,” Pelosi says in a statement about the new SCHIP bill veto.

The following is the text of the veto message that President Bush sent to the House:

TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 3963, the “Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007.” Like its predecessor, H.R. 976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country’s health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our Nation’s goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage –not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.

The purpose of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program … was to help low-income children whose families were struggling, but did not qualify for Medicaid, to get the health care coverage that they needed. My administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. That is why in February of this year I proposed a 5-year reauthorization of SCHIP and a 20% increase in funding for the program.

Some in the Congress have sought to spend more on SCHIP than my budget proposal. In response, I told the Congress that I was willing to work with its leadership to find any additional funds necessary to put poor children first, without raising taxes.

The leadership in the Congress has refused to meet with my administration’s representatives. Although they claim to have made “substantial changes” to the legislation, H.R. 3963 is essentially identical to the legislation that I vetoed in October. The legislation would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income in the United States. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage. The new bill, like the old bill, does not responsibly offset its new and unnecessary spending, and it still raises taxes on working Americans.

Because the Congress has chosen to send me an essentially identical bill that has the same problems as the flawed bill I previously vetoed, I must veto this legislation, too. I continue to stand ready to work with the leaders of the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to reauthorize the SCHIP program in a way that puts poor children first; moves adults out of a program meant for children; and does not abandon the bipartisan tradition that marked the original enactment of the SCHIP program. In the interim, I call on the Congress to extend funding under the current program to ensure no disruption of services to needy children.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

Dec. 12, 2007.