The House failed Thursday to override President Bush's veto of a bill would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill had some bipartisan support, but not the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.
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Even as the debate got underway, Democrats knew they were unlikely to secure the few crucial Republican votes needed to overturn the president's veto of a bipartisan bill providing health insurance to children in low- and middle-income families.
Nonetheless, they wanted to try, and the debate was heated. Georgia Democrat John Lewis.
REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-┬áGa.:
Today we must override the president's veto, because it is the right thing to do for our children. We have a mission, an obligation, and a mandate to provide health insurance for all the children and override the president's veto. We can spend millions and billions of dollars on war, but we cannot take care of health care for our children.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, was created 10 years ago to close the coverage gap for families who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but still not enough to afford private health insurance.
About 6.6 million children and some 700,000 adults, including pregnant women, received SCHIP coverage last year. Last month, Democrats and some Republicans approved a bill that would raise an extra $35 billion over five years from a new cigarette tax and send it to states to fund health plans covering up to 10 million children.
But the president, who had proposed a much smaller increase, vetoed the bill two weeks ago, saying in a statement it would "shift SCHIP away from its original purpose" of covering low-income children.
In response, Democrats embarked on a two-week lobbying campaign, staging rallies on Capitol Hill…
We want thank you for coming out tonight.
… as labor and health groups ran television ads in the districts of politically vulnerable Republicans.
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