President Bush today killed legislation, supported by members of both parties, that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.
The bill would have added $35 billion over five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, allowing an additional 4 million children to get healthcare coverage. Bush had warned that he would veto the bill because of its cost and because he said it would extend federal assistance to families that aren't truly needy. He reiterated those arguments in his veto message to the House.
The SCHIP bill passed in the Senate with enough momentum to survive a veto; however, it came up almost two dozen votes short in the House. House Democrats will try to persuade more Republicans to vote in support of the bill, but it is doubtful that enough GOP members will defect from the party line. Instead, both parties and the president would have to come to a compromise once the veto sticks.
Healthcare could be a huge issue in the next election, and candidates are already showcasing their plans to overhaul the nation's system.
The president has been criticized by some members of his own party for his stance. Republicans are worried it may make winning re-election more difficult.
It was only the fourth time in his presidency that Bush has vetoed a bill. Twice in the past two years he has vetoed bills that would have allowed stem cell research on human embryos. None of the vetoes have been overridden.