House easily passes S-CHIP

HOUSE EASILY PASSES S-CHIP…. The House passed expanded healthcare for children twice in the 110th Congress, but Bush vetoed the legislation both times. Today, the House got off on the right foot with another successful vote on S-CHIP, this time awaiting a better outcome with a more amenable president.

The House voted Wednesday to expand government-sponsored health care to 4 million more children of working families, making a down payment on President-elect Barack Obama’s promise to provide universal health care to all Americans who want it.

After the bill’s passage, Obama said he hoped the Senate acts with the “same sense of urgency so that it can be one of the first measures I sign into law when I am president.”

“In this moment of crisis, ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens,” Obama said.

The bill, passed by an overwhelming 289 to 139 vote, would increase federal taxes on cigarettes by 61 cents to a dollar a pack to pay the $32.3 billion cost of expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for the next 4 1/2 years. Departing President George W. Bush vetoed similar legislation twice in 2007

“Soon we will have a new president who has committed himself to reforming our nation’s health care system so every American can access affordable and quality health care.” said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. “The bill we are considering today makes a down-payment on that promise.”

The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill tomorrow. If Republicans filibuster the legislation, as they do every major bill, there are more than enough votes to pass it anyway.

The roll call is online here, but I’d note two groups of people of particular interest. There were six House Republicans — Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Mike Rogers (Ala.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), and Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) — who voted for the bill, after having opposed it in the last Congress. Elana Schor asks, “What happened, guys? Was it Obama’s post-partisan outreach that did it for you?”

On the flip-side, there were only two Democrats who broke party ranks and voted with the Republicans in opposition to the bill — Reps. Bobby Bright of Alabama and Jim Marshall of Georgia.

Post Script: By the way, E. J. Dionne had a good piece on S-CHIP and its importance in the midst of the economic crisis the other day. Maybe someone should send a copy to Bright and Marshall.