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Bush again vetoes bill to expand kids health plan

December 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children, his second rejection of a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase funding for the popular program.

It was Bush's seventh veto in seven years -- all but one coming since Democrats took control of Congress in January. Wednesday was the deadline for Bush to act or let the bill become law.

In a statement notifying Congress of his decision, Bush said the bill was unacceptable because -- like the first one -- it allowed adults into the program, would cover people in families with incomes above the U.S. median and raised taxes.

"This bill does not put poor children first, and it moves our country's healthcare system in the wrong direction," Bush's statement said. "Ultimately, our nation's goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage."

Bush urged Congress to extend the program at its current funding level before lawmakers leave Washington at the end of the week for their holiday break.

Congressional leaders said earlier Wednesday that they would try only to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, well into 2008 in basically its current form. Their comments signaled that they had given up efforts to substantially expand the program.

The House voted 211-180 late Wednesday to put off until Jan. 23 a vote on overriding the president's veto. "We are not going to let this veto stand," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Republicans said Democrats were scheduling the veto override vote to coincide with the week Bush comes to Congress for the State of the Union address.

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate by a veto-proof margin, but the same was not true in the House. A two-thirds vote in both chambers is required to override a presidential veto.

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