Bush vetoes children’s health bill a second time
WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed a bill expanding a popular children’s health-care program for a second time, angering Democrats who are locked in a fight with the administration over the budget and spending. Pushed by the Democratic-led Congress but also supported by many Republicans, the bill was aimed at providing health insurance to about 10 million children in low- and moderate-income families. Taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products would have been increased to pay for the aid.
Bush vetoed an earlier version of the bill in October but Congress quickly passed another one that included some changes but not enough to satisfy the White House concerns.
“Because the Congress has chosen to send me an essentially identical bill that has the same problems as the flawed bill I previously vetoed, I must veto this legislation too,” Bush wrote in a message to the House of Representatives.
The fight between Congress and the White House over the health bill is one in a series of clashes over spending that have arisen this year.
Bush has said the funding level sought by the Democrats for the health program would have expanded it beyond its original intent of covering poor children and marked a step toward government-run health care.
Democrats say the additional money is needed to help families who cannot afford to buy private health insurance but who earn too much to qualify for the Medicaid health care program for the poor.
“This is indeed a sad action for him to take, because so many children in our country need access to quality health care,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters.
The bill would have provided $60 billion in funding for the children’s health program over five years, compared with the current $25 billion five-year funding level.
The tobacco tax increase would raise the levy on cigarettes by 61 cents to $1 per pack.
House Democratic leaders said they will not try to override the veto right away and would vote on a bill to ensure the more than six million kids now in the program can stay enrolled.