Back to the drawing board
Despite heavy lobbying by health and child welfare groups, as well as attacks by the left, Republicans in the U.S. House today upheld President Bush' veto of the State Children's Health Care Program, popularly known as S-CHIP.
The veto override failed by 13 votes. Voting against it were every Florida Republican save two, Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores and Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota.
(Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, and his fiancee, Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., canceled each other out: He voted to uphold the veto, she voted to override it).
Although Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor voted against the final version approved by Congress, today she voted to override the veto.
She had argued the version sent to the president still presented too many barriers to enrolling children, and cigar makers in her district had opposed a $3-per-cigar tax to pay for it.
The bill would have expanded the health insurance program for lower-middle income kids to 10-million children, about 4-million more than are currently eligible. Now the Democratic-led House and Senate must either negotiate with the president for a version he can live with, or simply extend the current program without expanding it.
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., today was going to unveil what he considers a compromise, which would expand the number of children covered but also rely more on private insurers to provide the coverage.