Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bush Administration Now Willing to Increase SCHIP Spending by $19 Billion Only Weeks After Vetoing a Bipartisan Compromise

At a February 7th Senate Finance Committee hearing, HHS Secretary Leavitt testified about the 2009 Bush budget request.

This time, the Bush Administration is asking for $19.3 billion more for SCHIP over the next five years.

Just a few weeks ago, President Bush vetoed the $35 billion bipartisan SCHIP extension yet again. Bush and Leavitt maintained all of last year that the program should be extended by only $5 billion over five years.

SCHIP is now operating under a temporary deal that funds existing kids until March of 2009.

Summing up the Senators incredulity over the turnaround, Ranking Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said, "The fact that the President said we only needed $5 billion carried a great deal of credibility with about three-fourths of the people on the Republican side of the aisle. We didn't get the bipartisan compromise that the President could sign, and we would have been able to do that if this had been acknowledged a year ago."

Leavitt answered that the Bush administration had recalculated things saying, "We have better estimates now."
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