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Bush Vetoes Children's Health Bill, Leaves Millions Of Kids Without Coverage

Steve Benen: He's vetoed a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, a new stem-cell bill, and then today, health care for children.
 
 
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This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The president was very anxious to make his case against expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program in a very public way, complete with a press conference, a radio address, and a fairly aggressive media press. But when it came time to reject the bipartisan measure to provide access to care for millions of low-income families, Bush hid.

President Bush, in a confrontation with Congress, on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.

It was only the fourth veto of Bush's presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could carry steep risks for their party in next year's elections. The Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the veto, but the margin in the House fell short of the required number.

The White House sought as little attention as possible, with the president wielding his veto behind closed doors without any fanfare or news coverage.

John Kerry, noting that the president has "single-handedly jeopardized health care for millions of poor children," issued a compelling press statement:

"The President's twisted rationale that he opposes 'federalizing' health care is a hollow excuse for undermining a successful effort to give Governors the control and the tools to deliver health care for kids who desperately need it. President Bush conveniently forgot that he ran for reelection with a promise to give health care to millions more children and now as a lame duck president he is working to take it away. It seems George Bush was for kids' health care before he was against it."

As for what happens next, a pretty big campaign is about to get underway.

There's no question that Dems are going to press for a veto-override. They already have the votes in the Senate, and need a couple of dozen more in the House. With that in mind, the leadership sees no need to rush the override vote onto the floor.

House Democrats say they plan to send legislation expanding a children's health insurance program to President Bush later Tuesday, expecting him to veto it within hours. But an override vote might not come for days or weeks.

Democratic leaders said they might delay a showdown to allow pressure to build on House Republicans who oppose the legislation. Labor unions and religious groups announced campaigns to encourage GOP members to vote for an override.

[Majority Leader Steny Hoyer] offered no date for an override vote. "Maybe next week. Maybe the week after. There's no time limit," Hoyer said.

Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.

 
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