Boren The Only Delegation Member To Vote To Override SCHIP Veto

Friday, October 19th 2007, 7:20 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Only one member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation voted to override President Bush's veto of a bill that would have covered more of the nation's uninsured children.

The U.S. House on Thursday fell 13 votes short of the two thirds necessary to override the veto of a measure to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

The White House claimed victory after the vote and said congressional leaders should reach a compromise that would ensure the children currently eligible for the program are enrolled before expanding services to others.

But Democratic leaders vowed to send the president another bill with the same basic principles.

Representative Dan Boren joined 272 others in voting for the override, while Representatives Tom Cole, Mary Fallin, Frank Lucas and John Sullivan voted with 156 against the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said polls showed a vast majority of Americans supported the expansion of the program to cover more children, and she accused the president of distorting provisions of the bill.

"It should have been signed by the president," Pelosi said in a story from The Oklahoman's Washington bureau. "There is no reason that he has given that is consistent with the facts."

The State Children's Health Insurance Program was created 10 years ago to provide health coverage to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance.

The majority of states, including Oklahoma, offer coverage to families with 200 percent or less than the poverty level; the current poverty level is about $21,000 for a family of four.

The bill, which drew overwhelming support in the House and Senate last month, would have allowed states to expand eligibility, while also providing incentives to enroll children who currently qualify but are not receiving the aid.

Supporters said the bill would have added up to 4 million children to the 6.6 million already receiving coverage. Under the bill, the expansion would cost $35 billion over five years and be funded by an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

The Senate approved the bill last month by a veto-proof margin, and senators from both parties accused the White House of making misstatements about the bill.

In debate on Thursday, House Republicans said they supported the children's health insurance program but not the expansion proposed in the legislation.

They argued that it would guarantee coverage for children whose families have relatively high incomes while some of the poorest children are still not enrolled.

"My hope is that now we can work on a reasonable compromise that will provide funding to the maximum number of uninsured children," Boren said.

Lucas said he was pleased the president's veto was sustained.

"Now I hope we can come together to create a bill that both sides can agree on," he said.