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The Cost of SCHIP and the Cost of War

Location: Washington, DC

THE COST OF SCHIP AND THE COST OF WAR -- (House of Representatives - October 24, 2007)


The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I customarily do not find myself on the floor after the close of business, but I am here today because I genuinely find myself in the position of concern that I believe a significant number of Americans share.

We have passed, out of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, a measure that will provide health care to many of this Nation's children who presently are uninsured. The President, exercising his prerogative, vetoed that measure, and as a result of that, further discussions are ongoing, and the need, again, is to put forward a measure that will provide health care for 10 million children in this country that find themselves and their families without the necessary assistance for medical care.

Mr. Speaker, the President, on the day before yesterday, proposed that there be an additional $49 billion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There's no one in the House of Representatives who does not support the military efforts of the United States military. There's no one in the House of Representatives who is not exceedingly proud of the extraordinary work that the military has done. The military has done what the Commander-in-Chief required of them, and for those of us, as policymakers, expect that they would be able to do.

And quite frankly, one of my colleagues is preparing legislation that talks about the benchmarks that we had originally set for the military and the fact that the military, the U.S. military and the coalition forces have achieved all of those benchmarks. And, in short, we could not arguably say, with the removal of Saddam Hussein or with other temporizing measures that have been brought to various provinces in Iraq, that the military has not been successful. They have been. And when they come home we want them to receive the proud accolades of the American citizenry, and that's every Member of the United States House of Representatives.

But let's compare the cost in that particular effort with the cost for our children's health. Forty-one days in Iraq would provide health insurance for 10 million children.

Now, I don't know all of the nuances of the defense budget, but I have reason to believe that if we did not give all of the money as requested by the President that this particular effort could be run for a substantial period of time.

I might add, all of us are mindful of how stretched the United States military is. But you know something? Without knowing, I would venture a guess that some soldier's child may not be properly insured in this country. Some soldier's child. To my way of thinking, that is absurd. For us to be in the position, a Nation as resourceful as our Nation, a Nation as accomplished as our Nation, a Nation with genuinely the best physicians and nurses and hospitals in the world would find ourselves in this position.

We must pass SCHIP, and we must do so immediately.

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