Despite a clear veto threat from President Bush, Democratic and Republican negotiators on Friday announced a breakthrough deal on the children's health insurance program, agreeing to expand the initiative by $35 billion in an attempt to provide health care to million more uninsured children.
The agreement sets up a major showdown with the White House over a key domestic policy initiative backed by Democrats as well as a growing number of GOP moderates. The House will vote on the bill Tuesday and the Senate could vote as early as Wednesday. President Bush has promised to veto the legislation, and even though the Senate has the votes to override Bush's veto, the House does not yet have the votes for an override. It takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a presidential veto.
The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will be funded by a 61 cent increase per pack of cigarettes. While conservative Republicans, along with President Bush, have said they will never support any tax increase, plenty of Republicans in both chambers seem to find a tobacco tax increase more palatable than virtually any other potential tax hike.