House Fails To Override Presidential Veto Of SCHIP Legislation

Author:Ms Anne Camper
Profession:Powell Goldstein LLP

On October 18, 2007, the House of Representatives failed to override a Presidential veto of legislation that would have reauthorized the State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) program. The SCHIP program, established in 1997, was set to expire on September 30, 2007, although Congress passed legislation that temporarily extended funding through November 16. House leadership has indicated that they intend to present legislation similar to the vetoed legislation to the President within two weeks.

The vetoed SCHIP legislation, passed by a veto-proof majority in the Senate, was a $35 billion expansion that was to be paid for with an increase in the federal cigarette tax. The legislation was expected to cover 4 million children in addition to the 6.6 million currently covered. The vetoed legislation also made several changes to the SCHIP program benefit package, including making dental coverage a mandatory benefit and offering parity for mental health coverage. Presidential opposition to this legislation centered on policy concerns, specifically that the program would be expanded to higher-income children with access to private insurance. The President had proposed increasing the program's funding by $5 billion.

The House failed to override the Presidential veto by thirteen votes. House leadership is likely to make minor changes to the legislation in order to accommodate GOP legislators who originally voted against the SCHIP reauthorization. These changes, described as a "fig-leaf" by some commentators, are expected to clarify Congressional intent in areas, such as coverage...

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