That’s Dan Froomkin’s headline, but it was too good not to steal.
In one of the biggest congressional health care votes since 2003, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 159 to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years.
But the victory tally fell short of the tally needed to override a promised veto of the measure by President Bush.
Forty-five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the bill that provides health coverage for 3.8 million uninsured children and has the support of most health industry organizations as well as most of the nation’s governors, religious leaders and patient advocacy groups.
But expanding government programs to cover more uninsured Americans has proven ideologically intolerable to President Bush and to many House Republicans, whose opposition left the legislation well short of a veto-proof, two-thirds majority despite an all-out push by hundreds of lobbyists.
I just learned that one of the handful of Dems who voted against it was Dennis Kucinich. Jerid at Buckeye State Blog writes that Kucinich won’t vote for any health care measure other than his own universal coverage bill. Rosemary Palmer, a Democrat who is challenging Kucinich in the primary next year, said,
On one hand, President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesnâ€™t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nationâ€™s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership. Unfortunately, children in Northeast Ohio and around the country will pay the price for their obstinate actions.
I believe Kucinich also had a problem because House Democrats agreed to drop language from the bill that would have allowed foreign-born children who are here legally to obtain coverage. Apparently this was a sop to right-wingers who feared SCHIP benefits might go to illegal aliens in spite of identification requirements. The provision for legal immigrants was being called ” a gaping loophole to allow states to give taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants” by ring-wing congress critters like Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).
You know the rightie principle — better to let American citizens do without than allow one thin dime of taxpayer money benefit illegals. Back in the day we called that attitude “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Back to Tony Pugh:
A vote on the measure is expected Thursday in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is likely. The bill will then go to President Bush who is expected to veto it. In the interim, Democrats will temporarily fund the program, possibly through mid-November, until a long-term funding agreement can be reached, according to a senior Democratic aide.
President Bush may be courting the ultimate presidential indignity — a Congressional override — with his threatened veto of a bill to expand poor children’s health care access, which many members of his own party enthusiastically support.
Bush is still able to bully Congressional Democrats when it comes to the war and national security. But, in the realm of domestic politics, he’s the archetypal lame duck. About the only power he has left is the veto — and then, only if he can maintain enough Republican backing to sustain it.
Yet, astonishingly enough, Bush not only remains dead-set on vetoing the popular child health-care initiative, he’s once again pushing a dead-on-arrival proposal to give tax breaks to people who buy private insurance. Even some leading Republicans are agog.
The House vote suggests that overriding the veto is a long shot. Karen Tumulty writes at Swampland:
We’ve discussed before why this is a fight President Bush is likely to regret having won–and why millions of uninsured children are likely to regret it even more. Now, with House passage of the children’s health insurance bill having fallen about two dozen votes short of a veto-proof majority, it appears the bill is indeed headed for doom because of what Bush’s HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has called “the ideologic question.”
Democrats have been handed what could be a powerful issue going into an election year in which health care ranks at the top of voters’ domestic concerns. The bill got 45 Republican votes in the House–a sharp increase from the five who supported the original House version of the bill and more than some of its sponsors expected. That isn’t much consolation to all those children, though. Which is why Nancy Pelosi vows this won’t be the end of it.
An example of the nonsense going on surrounding this bill is provided by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Georgia congressional delegation split on the vote:
Republicans opposed it, Democrats supported it, and the only exception was Rep. Jim Marshall, a Macon Democrat, who voted against the expansion. Marshall is one of the most vulnerable congressmen in the country is once again facing a strong Republican challenge in next yearâ€™s congressional elections.
PeachCare, funded through SCHIP, has been successful and popular in Georgia so state Republicans were careful to praise PeachCare while denouncing SCHIP, which provides health insurance for poor kids, as a first step toward socialized medicine.
Is that slick, or what?
â€œReauthorizing SCHIP is essential,â€ Rep. Tom Price, a Roswell Republican, said. But â€œI was forced to oppose the bill.â€
â€œThe reality is this bill does not protect the most vulnerable amongst our citizens,â€ said Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Marietta Republican. â€œRather it diverts precious resources from those who need it the most in order to cover adults and already privately insured children.â€
As explained by Jeanne Lambrew at the Center for American Progress, Gingrey’s charges are bogus. The bill does not expand coverage to adults, and the charge that the bill would divert money from poor children to less needy children comes from data promoted by Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services that has been widely discredited, in particular by the Congressional Budget Office. See Lambrew for details.
The Senate bill is expected to pass tomorrow.