On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a revised version of the SCHIP legislation that President Bush vetoed the last time it came through Congress. The final tally was 256-142, enough to pass but shy of the two thirds majority needed to override another veto. (Ten members of the California delegation did not vote due to the wildfires in their home districts.)
While the Democrats refuse to alter the scope of the proposed plan (covering 10 million children at a cost of $35 billion over five years), there are a number of alterations when compared to the previously vetoed attempt. Matt Canham at the Salt Lake Tribune enumerates some of the changes:
The latest bill would:
- Cap income eligibility at three times the poverty level or about $60,000 a year for a family of four. The old bill would allow the president to agree to waivers to cover those making more than that.
- Phase out the adults covered by CHIP in one year instead of two.
- Require the Social Security Administration to verify that all participants are citizens, bolstering provisions barring undocumented immigrants.
- Require the Government Accountability Office to create a report detailing the best ways to avoid "crowd out," where those with private insurance drop it in favor of this government program.
The White House and House Republicans were not impressed by the concessions, calling them "cosmetic."
Depending on how long it takes for this revised bill to negotiate the Senate it could be on the President's desk as early as next week. Several media sources report administration officials as saying President Bush is solidly opposed to the stiff increases in tobacco taxes which would fund the program. Most of these sources agree that a second veto is highly likely once this reaches the executive branch. If that occurs an override vote is likely to occur near November 16, the date on which temporary funding for the program expires.
SOURCE: "CHIP Revision Passes House" 10/26/07
photo courtesy of Superturtle on Flickr, used and remixed under this Creative Commons license. Image Remix by George Williams