Congress’ veto fails this country’s most vulnerable citizens


Last week Congress had a historic opportunity to right a grave wrong and override President Bush’s veto of the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Unfortunately, the vote by the members of the House of Representatives fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. The SCHIP is a highly-successful program that provides health insurance coverage to impoverished children across the country.

President Bush vetoed a compromise bill that would have reauthorized and strengthened the program by including more children in urgently in need of health coverage.

The vote is very disappointing to those who worked on the compromise legislation, especially individuals from Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association (CHA). The lack of an override of the president’s veto jeopardizes health insurance coverage for thousands of children from low-income families. Regrettably, much of the debate surrounding the president’s veto has been misguided and misinformed, due to the many false assertations and misconceptions that opponents of the SCHIP leveled against the program.

Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of CHA, urged President Bush and members of Congress “to continue working for SCHIP reauthorization, we should begin those discussions by being clear and forthright about what the current legislation does and does not do.”

The health care system in our nation is in crisis and people at every economic level are affected by the catastrophic condition of health care coverage. However, the burden of expensive health care is especially troublesome when it puts the nation’s children at risk. The SCHIP program has long provided the needed safety net for millions of less fortunate children whose families are unable to pay for health care. The health and well being of our children should not be fodder for partisan politics, but rather a hallmark of bi-partisan support.

We urge both the President and Congress to put aside their partisan power struggle and reauthorize SCHIP in order to protect the children of our nation.