Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a motion today to limit debate on a bill that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP. The vote could come as early as tomorrow, Tuesday.
The bill, similar to the bill vetoed by Bush earlier this month would expand the SCHIP Legislation to cover 10 million children and increase funding $35 billion over the next five years. The money would come from a 61-cent increase on cigarettes. Like the adjusted House bill, this bill specifically limits coverage to children in families with incomes below 300% of poverty level.
A similar measure passed the House last week by a 265 to 142 vote. The vote is considered veto proof in the Senate but the House still does not appear to have the votes to override. Bush is expected to veto.
According to CQ, how the Democrats address the November 16 expiration of the continuing resolution under which SCHIP is currently operating, (the previous bill expired on September 30) will signal how they intend to proceed.
Passing a short-term extension of the program “would suggest that Democrats still hope to negotiate a permanent expansion of SCHIP with Republicans,” while passing a long-term extension — which could expire directly prior to the 2008 elections — “would suggest that Democrats have resolved to use children’s health insurance as a political weapon.
Related to this is Howard Dean’s response to the issue:
The Republican leaders have made their choice, they want to stay in Iraq and deny our kids health care. America cannot afford four more years of a president who borrows for the war and denies health insurance for our kids