Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dent, Gerlach, English, Murphy, Platts vote with Dems in failed bid to override SCHIP veto

Five Pennsylvania Republicans voted with the Democrats Thursday to override President Bush's veto of the $7 billion expansion of the SCHIP program.

Despite defections from the Pennsylvania Republicans, the House failed to garner the two-thirds majority to override the presidential veto of the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The vote was 273-156 to override the veto of the bill that would have expanded coverage of government paid health insurance to 4 million more children, including those in families earning three times the national poverty level.

(A family of four with income of $62,000 would have been eligible for coverage under the Democrats' massive expansion of taxpayer-paid health care.)

"That's not low-income. That's a majority of households in America," Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., told The Associated Press.

SCHIP now covers 6 million children at a cost of about $5 billion a year. The vetoed bill would have added 4 million more children to the program at an added cost of $7 billion annually.

To pay for the increase, Democrats wanted to raised the federal tax on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.00 a pack.

The override vote was 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority required. (Democrats don't have enough votes in the Senate for an override, either).

The Pennsylvania House Republicans were among 44 House Republicans who joined 229 Democrats on the override measure.

Here's a rundown o how the Pennsylvania delegation voted, according to The Associated Press:

Democrats — Altmire, Y; Brady, Y; Carney, Y; Doyle, Y; Fattah, Y; Holden, Y; Kanjorski, Y; Murphy, Patrick, Y; Murtha, Y; Schwartz, Y; Sestak, Y.

Republicans — Dent, Y; English, Y; Gerlach, Y; Murphy, Tim, Y; Peterson, N; Pitts, N; Platts, Y; Shuster, N.

Pennsylvania Republicans lost four Congressional seats in 2006 and the few Republicans who survived are now moving away from President Bush on many issues.

The debate over funding SCHIP also filtered down to the state level, where the Pennsylvania House of Representatives spent more than three hours debating a resolution urging Congress to override the veto. The final vote was 124-71 to approve the resolution. All the House Democrats supported the resolution and found about two dozen Republicans to go along.

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