Republican Whining On S-chip, Cont'd

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THE TREATMENT JANUARY 28, 2009

Republican Whining On S-chip, Cont'd

The Republican Senate leadership is trying to hold up extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), arguing that Democrats added new, more expansive provisions to the bipartisan compromise they passed previously. And, as I note below, there are good reasons for that.

More people need help getting health insurance, because the economy is in such trouble. And the Democrats just won the presidency and extra Senate seats, after an election in which they ran on promises to expand expand programs like S-CHIP. It would seem the public has spoken and the Democrats are acting in accord with their wishes.

There's also a third factor to consider. The reason the compromise never became law is that its supporters were unable to secure enough Republican votes to override former President Bush's veto.

You can't hold Senators Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch responsible for that failure. They helped negotiate the compromise and voted for it. But what about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's been complaining about this most loudly? That's another story, as this New York Times account of the 2007 S-CHIP vote explains:

On Thursday, Senate Republican leaders objected to Democratic requests to allow more time for the bipartisan
negotiations seeking a compromise. The purpose of the talks was to win
over enough House Republicans to override the veto promised by the
president.

In an interview, Representative Judy Biggert,
Republican of Illinois, said, “The talks were making really good
progress.” But, she said, “everything changed” after the top two Senate
Republicans, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Trent Lott of Mississippi, “objected to postponing a Senate vote” on the bill.

Seventeen Republican senators voted for the bill, but Mr. McConnell and Mr. Lott voted against it.

So, just to be clear, McConnell not only voted against the S-CHIP compromise but used his power to prevent Congress from overriding it. And now he's upset that compromise didn't become law?

Elections have consequences. And--to quote reader "prnoonan," who first brought this to my attention--"votes have consequences, as well." 

--Jonathan Cohn

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