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Public Statements

Support Veto Override on SCHIP

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Hirono) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. HIRONO. Madam Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to override the President's veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization. The bill we sent him earlier this month would provide health insurance for 10 million low-income children.

This includes continuing insurance for the 20,000 kids in my State of Hawaii already in the program, and reaching out to provide coverage for an additional 12,000 Hawaiian children currently eligible but not yet enrolled in the program.

I am disappointed that the President and many Members on the other side of the aisle have taken what can fairly be characterized as a stand against children. This is how much of the country views their position. Apparently even the President is aware that his veto was a bad decision because he now says that he wants to find a way to compromise with Congress. However, the CHIP reauthorization that the President vetoed was already a bipartisan compromise.

The original bill we passed in the House would have ensured health care for children of legal immigrants and other important provisions that the Senate saw fit to cut. So the version of the legislation that the President vetoed was in fact already a compromise bill.

It is not surprising that we have strong public support for a bill that reflects our American values. Forty-three Governors, Republican and Democratic Governors alike, share our belief that all children deserve access to health care. Senate Republicans who helped shape the legislation agree.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin summed it up precisely in an editorial this month by declaring that the President's ``veto is indefensible.''

Therefore, I urge my colleagues not to defend the President's indefensible veto, but to instead join together in defense of the most vulnerable among us, our children.

This is not only the right thing to do, it is the fiscally responsible thing to do. The bill is fully paid for, and the cost of this preventive care will save substantial money over time as we keep children out of unnecessary and expensive emergency room visits.

I am also distressed but not surprised by the President's misinformation in defending his veto. He would like people to believe that our bill provides health coverage to families who don't need it, those who are making $83,000 for a family of four. This is simply not true. In fact, our bill does the opposite.

Our bill helps States reach out to enroll the poorest children most in need of health coverage and it decreases Federal contributions to States which cover families over 300 percent of the Federal poverty line.

What this veto comes down to is a question of values: Should every child in this country have health care? Does every child deserve a chance to grow up into a healthy adult? I think so, as do my constituents in Hawaii and indeed the majority of Americans.

Tomorrow's vote will reflect our values, and I urge my colleagues to stand with our children.

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