Agency leaders call on Congress to override Child Health Bill veto

October 17, 2007

The Rev. R. Randy Day, the general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), has personally appealed to each member of the Congress to override President George W. Bush’s veto of a bill that would reauthorize and expand a pivotal health insurance program for children. Day’s appeal was being faxed to all senators and representatives on the morning of Oct. 3 even as the President vetoed the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Day also made a last-minute appeal to the White House asking President Bush not to veto the measure. Day appealed to the President as a “fellow United Methodist” and stated that the UMC “firmly believes that all children in the U.S. deserve the opportunity for a healthy life.”

 

In support of the appeal, Harriett Olson, head of the Women’s Division, said, “One of the measures by which a society is judged is the quality of the care and support it offers to its most vulnerable. Children in this country are among the most vulnerable and it is our moral and ethical responsibility to support basic health care for them. SCHIP is a critical step to enabling our national and state government to do just that.” James Winkler, chief executive of the General Board of Church and Society, said, “We are deeply disappointed that President Bush vetoed this bill, which received bipartisan support and which promised to provide health care to 10 million children over this five-year span.”

 

At issue in the SCHIP struggle between the President and Congress is the amount of the increase in the reauthorization. Congress wrote in a $35 billion increase over the next funding period; the White House wants only $5 billion. The reauthorization was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate but by a slimmer margin in the House of Representatives. To override a veto in the House would mean that some 15 Republicans who voted against the bill would need to change their vote.

— Compiled from Elliott Wright (GBGM) and UMNS reports