THE TREATMENT JANUARY 15, 2009
Just in from the Senate Finance Committee: They've approved an extension--and expansion--of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. And, like their counterparts in the House, they've struck the provision in existing law that prohibits the children of legal immigrants from receiving benefits for five years.
As expected, most of the committee's Republicans protested the immigrant provision. They also raised familiar objections about the extension of government-administered health insurance, in this case to some middle-income families. It didn't matter. The bill passed on a nearly party line vote, with a lone Republican--Maine Senator Olympia Snowe--switching sides to vote with her Democratic colleagues.
By the way, Snowe not only voted for the final measure. To her credit, she also co-sponsored the immigrant provision.
Assuming the full Senate acts with similar expeidency, Obama will get his quick, clean victory; an additional four million children will get affordable health insurance; and Finance Chairman Max Baucus can start work on a new piece of health legislation.