Senate Finance Committee

House Votes to Expand Insurance for Kids

Reported by Fox News:

The House voted Tuesday to expand health insurance for children, but the Democratic-led victory may prove short-lived because the margin was too small to override President Bush’s promised veto.

Embarking on a health care debate likely to animate the 2008 elections, the House voted 265-159 to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, by $35 billion over five years. Bush says he will veto the bill due to its cost, its reliance on a tobacco tax increase and its potential for replacing private insurance with government grants.

The bill drew support from 45 House Republicans, many of them moderates who do not want to be depicted as indifferent to low-income children’s health needs when they seek re-election next year. But 151 Republicans sided with Bush, a move that Democrats see as a political blunder.

To overturn a presidential veto, both chambers of Congress must produce two-thirds majorities. The 265 yes votes in the House are two dozen fewer than Democrats would need to override Bush’s veto, and House leaders expect few members to switch positions.

The Senate appears poised to pass the SCHIP expansion by a large margin later this week, but a Senate bid to override a veto would be pointless if the House override effort falls short.

Retailers say higher taxes will cost them customers has a story on how retailers are reacting to all the tobacco price hikes. Old news I know but thought it was interesting.

Dennis Lambert, owner of the Tinderbox, 2217 N. Perryville Road, fears that the taxes will eliminate much of the demand for the top-shelf cigars that make up 80 percent of his business. Excises for hand-rolled cigars, now at 5 cents a cigar, could rise to as much as $10 under a U.S. Senate bill.

“Cigars for most of my customers are a reward,” Lambert said. “They work hard all week and on the weekend they want to sit down on their deck and enjoy a cigar and a glass of wine. They’re just going to cut back on it.”

The federal government is looking to fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, a government coverage plan for uninsured children who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

This is a follow up on my post Senate Finance Committee to Increase Tobacco Tax