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Friday, September 28, 2007

Congress Votes To Add More Children to SCHIP

- Congress approved legislation Thursday that would potentially add 4 million children to a popular health care program, setting up a veto fight that President Bush probably will win but handing Democrats a campaign issue for next year's elections.

Eighteen Republicans in the Senate lined up with Democrats in voting 67-29 to increase spending on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, from about $5 billion to $12 billion annually for the next five years.

The vote was enough to override a promised Bush veto. But supporters in the House, which passed the bill Tuesday, are about two dozen votes shy of an override. Both chambers would have to muster two-thirds majorities to win a veto showdown.

Overall, spending for SCHIP would increase to $60 billion over five years in the unlikely prospect the bill becomes law -- double what President Bush recommended.

Analysts projected the legislation would allow about 4 million of the estimated 9 million uninsured children in the United States to gain coverage.

Bush and most GOP lawmakers say the spending increase is too large and would expand the program beyond its original intent. That intent was to help families with incomes too large to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

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