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Location: Washington, DC

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I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Speaker, this is starting to feel like Ground Hog Day, the same debate over and over. By my count, this is the eighth time that we have debated SCHIP legislation on the House floor in the 110th Congress. Considering that the most recent debate was on the legislation to extend the program through March of 2009, it is hard for me to understand why the majority finds it necessary to hold this vote. This is time and, more importantly, goodwill that could be better spent discussing legislation that both Republicans and Democrats could support.

House Republicans have stated repeatedly the principles that we believe necessary to secure our votes on the legislation to reauthorize SCHIP. Those basic principles include covering low-income children first, SCHIP for kids only, SCHIP should not force children out of private health insurance, SCHIP for U.S. citizens only, and the funding should be stable and equitable.

As many of my colleagues know, I have been part of a group of Members from both sides of the aisle and from both Chambers who met for months late last year to find common ground on SCHIP legislation. For my colleagues who took part in these meetings, you know very well that the discussions were productive at times and less productive at other times. But despite our disagreements and the bumps in the road, we persisted and continued to meet because we believe that this is one of the most important issues that this Congress will address. While I believe we were making progress, we ran out of time. However, the extension provided by Congress in December gives us another opportunity to do the right thing.

It's the majority prerogative to determine when bills come to the floor, but if Democrats are serious about reauthorizing SCHIP, let's sit down and finish what we started last fall and write a bill that both sides can agree to. Partisan posturing is not going to provide relief to the working families and health coverage for kids.

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