House Passes Children’s Health Insurance Bill

Posted January 14, 2009 at 2:41pm

Updated: 4:10 p.m.

The House on Wednesday easily approved an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The final vote was 289-139 with 40 Republicans supporting the bill. Two Democrats — Reps. Bobby Bright (Ala.) and Jim Marshall (Ga.) — voted against it.

President-elect Barack Obama praised the outcome as “good economic policy” and called on the Senate to act swiftly on the bill “so that it can be one of the first measures I sign into law when I am president.”

The overwhelming SCHIP vote gives Democrats a major victory in the early days of the 111th Congress.

The battle over the health expansion measure, which would add 4 million children to the program, led to a veto showdown between Democrats and President George W. Bush in 2007, on which Republicans ultimately prevailed.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats were very pleased to have a 2-1 majority vote on the bill Wednesday, but added, “We needed it last time.”

Republican leaders, however, continued to oppose the legislation, arguing that it would expand the program beyond the near-poor children that it was originally designed to serve and doesn’t do enough to rein in states using the program for other purposes.

Republicans also argued the bill does not do enough to prevent illegal immigrants from getting benefits.