With 273 votes, including 44 Republicans, the override of the Bush veto on SCHIP failed in the House of Representatives yesterday. Democrats pledged to bring the bill back with only minor changes, and it appears that if those changes are made additional Republicans may support the bill. What are those changes? From the Washington Post.
The new version will probably give Republicans some face-saving alterations but no substantive change. Democratic leaders suggested that they could add language clarifying that the program would not cover families with incomes above 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about an annual income of about $60,000 for a family of four. And they would tighten language to ensure that the children of illegal immigrants would not receive benefits.
Rank and file Republicans, eager to put this issue behind them, seem ready to deal.
Republicans sent signals that minor changes may be all that will be needed, if not for the president’s signature, then for the votes of balking House members. Rep. Joe L. Barton (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the emphasis should be strictly on covering low-income children.
“We don’t think illegal aliens should be covered, and we don’t think that over time adults should be covered,” Barton said. “There are some states that cover more adults than children.”
Four moderate Republicans sent Pelosi a letter outlining what they thought could win passage, including a cap at 300 percent of the poverty level, a phasing out of eligibility for some adults and an expressed prohibition on covering illegal immigrants. “The modifications needed are relatively modest,” said Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.).
Negotiations will now begin, but the President’s role could be marginalized if Speaker Pelosi can peel off enough Republican support through minor modification of the bill. She has laid down a political marker on these negotiations.
While Pelosi is willing to talk to Bush, she stressed that Democrats will accept nothing less than an expansion to 10 million children. “That’s not negotiable,” she said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is stepping up the pressure in some swing House Districts currently Republican, and I think that after all is said and done there will be enough Republican support to override a Presidential veto. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas voted in favor of the override.
Link to the Washington Post article here.