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GOP cries foul on timing of children's health vote

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Adrienne
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« on: October 25, 2007, 01:16:39 pm »

GOP cries foul on timing of children's health vote

Story Highlights
House vote on children's health care insurance scheduled for Thursday

Many Republicans who would vote "no" will be out of town then, GOP says

GOP house members will be in California as President Bush tours wildfire area

One Republican says Democratic leaders are "taking advantage of a disaster"


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From Deirdre Walsh and Jessica Yellin
CNN
     
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republicans are fuming over Democrats' decision to hold the next vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program on Thursday -- when many Republicans will be in California as President Bush tours areas hit by wildfires.





House Democratic leaders Steny Hoyer, left, and Nancy Pelosi discuss the kids' health insurance vote last week.

 "Five to seven members are going, all of whom would be 'no' votes, and [Democrats] know it," House Republican Whip Roy Blunt told CNN. "This is clearly designed to minimize the Republican opposition to this bill."

President Bush vetoed the proposed five-year expansion and $35 billion spending increase for SCHIP on October 3.

House Democrats tried to override the veto last week, but failed to get the two-thirds majority needed for a veto. The bill to be taken up on Thursday is a revised version that Democrats hope will win converts.

At a meeting of Republican House members to discuss the revised bill, Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas said the Democrats are "taking advantage of a disaster to loot the American treasury."

Thirteen Republicans from fire-stricken districts signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, urging her as "a fellow Californian" to postpone the vote.

"Members should not have to choose between making an important vote in Washington or being in California helping our constituents to get the aid they need to rebuild their homes and their lives," they wrote.

But Democratic House aides defended the scheduling of Thursday's vote. Stacey Bernards, spokesperson for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, told CNN Democrats are affected by the fires too.

"The fires aren't partisan," she said. "We are very concerned for the victims of the fires but tomorrow's vote outcome will not be affected by Republicans and Democrats who will not be there."

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Another Democratic House leadership aide told CNN, "The White House and Republicans would like to postpone this legislation because they don't want a deal. It's that simple."

At the Republican meeting, party leaders urged their members not to vote for the bill, saying "no one has seen any details" of the new legislation.

"I urged that the team stick together and improve the bill," Republican leader John Boehner told CNN. Both Boehner and Blunt said they asked Hoyer to delay Thursday's vote.

In a press conference Wednesday evening, Democratic leaders announced the new bill will include changes on major issues that Republicans complained about in the last debate. They said it will tighten the restriction on illegal immigrants receiving SCHIP benefits; cap the income levels of families eligible for SCHIP; move adults out of SCHIP faster; and include new provisions to encourage SCHIP families to keep private health insurance.

The Democratic leadership insisted they had addressed every concern Republicans raised.

"We hope that tomorrow this legislation will be overwhelmingly approved," Hoyer said. "We hope that the Senate will approve it next week and that we will again send it to the President, this time responding to his concerns.

"We hope that he will sign it. The children of America and their families are certainly hoping that that will be the case."

Republican Judy Biggert -- who voted against the original bill, but has been targeted by Democrats as a possible new "yes" vote -- described the changes as "cosmetic."

Rep. Charles Dent, a Republican who supported the bill, told CNN that he believes there will be "some defections, but not many." He suggested Democrats would win more votes if they held the bill until next week.

A House Republican leadership aide who attended their closed door meeting Wednesday afternoon said no members indicated they would change their vote. E-mail to a friend

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/25/schip.vote/index.html
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