SCHIP bill passes in House, veto threat still looms large

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Although a $35 billion expansion of the children's healthcare bill was approved in the House of Representatives with a strong majority Tuesday night, the bill's advocates admitted they will probably fall short of the two-thirds majority they will need next week to override President Bush's promised veto.

The compromise package that was approved would increase spending for the program by $35 billion over five years. Bu an increase in the federal tobacco tax, not cuts to long-term care providers' and others' Medicare reimbursement, would be used to fund the legislation. Bush favors a more modest $5 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and has stated that the Congressional package smacks of federalized healthcare.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure by the end of the week, likely setting up the veto showdown with the president.