GOP cries foul on timing of children's health vote
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republicans are fuming over Democrats' decision to hold the next vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program on Thursday -- when many Republicans will be in California as President Bush tours areas hit by wildfires.So let's get this straight; the Democrats are taking advantage of a national disaster to pass a children's health bill while the Republicans are taking advantage of a national disaster to get some cheap photo ops. So what is the real reason the Republicans don't want the vote?
"Five to seven members are going, all of whom would be 'no' votes, and [Democrats] know it," House Republican Whip Roy Blunt told CNN. "This is clearly designed to minimize the Republican opposition to this bill."
President Bush vetoed the proposed five-year expansion and $35 billion spending increase for SCHIP on October 3.
House Democrats tried to override the veto last week, but failed to get the two-thirds majority needed for a veto. The bill to be taken up on Thursday is a revised version that Democrats hope will win converts.
At a meeting of Republican House members to discuss the revised bill, Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas said the Democrats are "taking advantage of a disaster to loot the American treasury."
Another Democratic House leadership aide told CNN, "The White House and Republicans would like to postpone this legislation because they don't want a deal. It's that simple."
How different is the new bill? Not much!
Bush said he vetoed the original SCHIP bill to prove he was still relevant. The Democrats are apparently trying to send the message that he's not.
Democrats tweak SCHIP in effort to override veto
After tinkering with their bill, House Democrats believe they have made the necessary concessions to attract a veto-proof majority on legislation expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
House Democratic leadership aides said that the new bill has addressed the three principle Republican complaints made about the original five-year, $35 billion expansion, which President Bush vetoed earlier this month.
A vote on the legislation is scheduled for Thursday. If it is approved with a veto-proof majority, it would qualify as a huge political victory for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as well as Senate Democrats, who already have the votes to override Bush.
The revised measure will include provisions prohibiting coverage of adults, preventing families with incomes of 300 percent of the poverty level from qualifying for the program, and making it harder for illegal immigrants to sign up for the program.
Key Bush administration figures on Wednesday signaled a willingness to compromise with House Democrats, but congressional leaders appeared to be moving ahead as though they don’t need to deal with the administration.
Tailoring modifications to the bill to meet the needs of centrist Republicans, if successful, would allow the Democratic leadership to avoid negotiating with the administration entirely.