Thursday, December 13, 2007
For the second time in three months, President Bush yesterday vetoed legislation that would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance program by $35 billion over five years and would have boosted its enrollment to about 10 million children. Bush cited the same reasons that led him to veto a version of the bill on Oct. 3 -- that it raised cigarette taxes and provided coverage for children of middle-class families instead of focusing on the working poor.
Democrats and some Republicans had argued that the second version addressed Bush's major concern by capping eligibility at 300 percent of the federal poverty line -- slightly more than $60,000 for a family of four. But most expected the president to veto the measure anyway. Backers of the legislation could not override Bush's first veto and it is unclear if they will try to override the second one.
The fate of the $5 billion-a-year program remains undecided, as lawmakers negotiate a new five-year funding package that can win Bush's approval or draw a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate. If they cannot do that soon, Congress is expected to pass a temporary extension that would keep the program funded through much of next year.
-- Christopher Lee