Democrats Will Send SCHIP Bill To Bush, Veto Expected

Democratic leaders announced tonight that they would send a $35 billion bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to President Bush. Bush is expected to veto the bill, as he has an earlier version of the SCHIP bill.

“After consultations today, Democratic leaders in Congress have decided to send bipartisan legislation that would ensure that 10 million low-income American children receive the health insurance coverage that they need and deserve to the White House," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said ina statement. "This legislation, of course, passed the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, and we urge the President to sign it into law. We are sending this legislation to the President now because of concerns about a pocket veto if we wait. Our bipartisan discussions on extending health insurance to 10 million children are on-going.”

A pocket veto occurs when Congress adjourns before the 10-day limit (excluding Sundays) given to the president to sign or veto a bill once it received from Capitol Hill. Democrats hope to adjourn for the year by mid-December, meaning the 10-day clock would expire then.

Under the Democratic proposal, an additional 10 million children would receive coverage under the SCHIP expansion. The $35 billion price tag would be paid for a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal cigarette tax.