President Bush’s second veto of Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation drew sharp criticism from Democratic leaders in Congress, who promised to continue to work on the issue.
“It’s not yet Christmas, but President Bush is already behaving like the Grinch,” said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. Stark further chided the White House by contrasting the $35 billion price tag that the vetoed legislation carried with the president’s ongoing requests to fund the war.
“All I want for Christmas is a few more brave Republicans in Congress,’ he added. “With their help and the support of a united Democratic Caucus, we’ll overturn the President’s veto and take American health care in a new direction. Extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program is an important and substantial first step toward health care for all our children.”
Stark’s sentiment was echoed in the Senate by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
“Once again President Bush has slammed the door on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens–our children,” Kennedy said in response to the veto. “As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, we should remember how many of them have been left out in the cold by this administration. This should be a season of good will not a season of bad vetoes.”
The President’s veto message explained his decision as being on similar grounds as his decision to veto an earlier version of the bill, specifically that it would costs the government too much and provide coverage to children and parents that he felt did not need assistance.
“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,” he said. “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.”