Wednesday, August 01, 2007

House votes to expand SCHIP program

The House of Representatives voted, 225-204, to re-authorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to cover those currently enrolled and an additional 5.5 million children. The Senate is still debating its version of the bill, but passage is expected fairly soon. However, the two versions will have to be reconciled because the House version appropriates more money for the program and while both pay for it with a tax increase on cigarettes, the House version also cuts payments to Medicare HMOs and shifts the money to doctors and benefits for low-income seniors. The administration has promised to veto the legislation because it exceeds Bush's spending request and would move away from private health insurance plans.

Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a bill to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products by a 13-8 vote, clearing the way for Senate floor action sometime after the August recess, according to CQ. House action is also not expected before September.

According to the Washington Post, Congressional Democrats are proposing a compromise with the Bush administration that would "permit a secret court to issue a single broad order approving eavesdropping of communications involving suspects overseas and other people, who may be in the United States." The proposal would also "ensure that the FISA court, not just the attorney general, has an oversight role when surveillance of foreign targets touches on individuals inside the United States." This interim deal would be limited to 180 days and then would require renewal or renegotiation to continue. Votes in the House and Senate could come this week.

Reuters reports a Senators Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch are unveiling legislation to give Congress a stronger role in the enforcement of U.S. trade laws and to create a new administration position focused on bringing trade cases. Details here.

According to CQ, a bill requiring organizations that raise money for presidential libraries to disclose who is funneling donations to their efforts is set to be considered by the Senate's Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee , despite unresolved objections from - you guessed it - corrupt Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.

Finally, according to the Post, states are making an effort to reign in state voting officials who participate as candidates in races they are responsible for overseeing or act as leaders in their political parties.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

Not a bad day.