This vote was on a resolution outlining the rules for floor debate on a bill that would dole out $60 billion for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) over a time period of 4.5 years. The SCHIP program – funded primarily through taxes on tobacco products -- helps low income families with children afford health insurance, and currently covers about 6 million kids.
These types of resolutions, drafted by the House Rules Committee (and typically favorable to the majority party, in this case Democrats), set the rules for debate for bills on the House floor, including how long the bill will be debated and what, if any, amendments may be offered.
As is typical with these kinds of rules, the minority party (in this case Republicans) complained that the rule is too restrictive and that it does not afford them enough of a chance to offer amendments.
Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., complained that the rule would not allow him to offer an amendment to close loopholes that allow people to unfairly take advantage of SCHIP.
“I had such an amendment that was not made in order by the Rules Committee. My amendment would have addressed a very important problem with current law,” Gingrey said. “However, we are not going to get the chance, unfortunately, or any other thoughtful amendments that were offered by my Republican and Democratic colleagues, because the Democratic majority leaders wish to contradict the bipartisan spirit that they touted only a week ago.”
Democrats did not directly address Republicans’ complaints about the rule being too restrictive, instead talking mostly about the merits of the SCHIP bill itself.
“Today’s legislation would reauthorize and approve the CHIP program to protect and continue coverage for 6.7 million children, plus an additional 4 million children that are eligible but are currently uninsured,” said Bart Stupak, D-Mich. “I support this legislation and urge all my colleagues to support the rule and the underlying legislation.”
By a vote of 244-178, the House adopted the rule. Every Republican present voted against the rule. All but three Democrats present voted for the rule. The end result is that the House passed a rule governing floor debate for a bill that will increase funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.