Hoyer, Emanuel Discuss Possible SCHIP Compromise
State Children's Health Insurance Program
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Democratic CaucusChair Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) on Monday met with a group of Republicanlawmakers to discuss whether a new compromise can be reached on revisedlegislation that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 10/30). The House last week failed to pass the revised bill with a veto-proof majority (Wayne , CQ Today,10/29). If lawmakers can agree to compromise measures, an amendment canbe added to the bill when it is brought to a vote in the Senate, whichcould occur this week. The bill then would be sent back to the Housefor another vote (CongressDaily, 10/30).
The revised legislation (HR 3963) -- which is similar to the bill vetoedby President Bush earlier this month -- would expand SCHIP to cover 10million children and increase spending on the program to $35 billionover five years, funded with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federalcigarette tax. The bill would limit coverage to children in familieswith annual incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/30).
Reps.Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Ginny Brown-Waite(R-Fla.) and Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) attended the meeting withHoyer and Emanuel. Lawmakers did not disclose details but said that thetone was positive and that additional meetings would occur (CongressDaily,10/30). However, some Republicans said it appears unlikely thatDemocrats will agree to enough changes to win the 12 Republican votesnecessary to override a veto, citing large differences in views onproof-of-citizenship guidelines, income limits and mandatory targetsfor enrolling children in families with annual incomes less than 200%of the poverty level, according to CongressDaily (Johnson, CongressDaily, 10/29).
Some Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, have said they will cease to support the bill if significant changes are made as concessions to Republicans, CQ Today reports.
In addition to the efforts by Hoyer and Emanuel, Senate Finance Committeeranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is working with HouseRepublicans, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), andSens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to draft anamendment to address Republican concerns. A spokesperson said Grassleyis "hopeful that the Senate can make further changes that will enablelegislation to become law, renewing and reforming this importantprogram" (Wayne , CQ Today, 10/29).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday at a health center inLiberty City, Fla., met with physicians and other medical professionalswho support the revised SCHIP bill, the Miami Heraldreports. Pelosi was joined by Reps. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) and DebbieWasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). The lawmakers hoped to persuade Reps.Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Lincoln D