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House Showdown: the S-CHIP Veto Override Vote; Update: Crazy Pete Stark Accuses President Bush of Blowing Iraqis and American Troops Up "for His Amusement;" Update: 1:15pm Eastern Veto Override Fails;Update: MSM Ignores Stark Remarks
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Update 3:20pm Eastern. See my new post on Pete StarkRavingMad. These people can’t contain themselves. And let’s stop the delusion that the Starks are the fringe. They are the center of the nutroots-i-fied Democrat Party.

Shocker! Not a word in the NYTimes coverage of the override vote failure about Stark’s remarks.

Nothing in the latest WaPo story, either!

Because, you know, Democrats debasing the president and dragging the debate into the sewer on the House floor is just not news.

Update 1:52pm Eastern. While the Dems continue Kiddie Kabuki Theater (“HEEELP THE CHILDREN! SUFFER THE CHILDREN!!”), the GOP moves forward.

As I noted last night, they’ll unveil their SCHIP alternative at 3pm Eastern today.

Update 1:15pm Eastern. The veto override fails, falls short of two-thirds majority, 273-156. The roll will be here.

FYI: You will be interested to know that Nancy Pelosi’s closing speech did not mention a single word about the Frost family.

Also: All the poster families the Democrats used as human shields remain covered by S-CHIP–just as they did before this vote and just as they did before the president’s veto.

Here’s the wire report on the override failure:

House Democrats failed Thursday to override President Bush’s veto of their pre-election year effort to expand a popular government health insurance program to cover 10 million children.

The bill had bipartisan support but the 273-156 roll call was 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority supporters needed to enact the bill into law despite Bush’s objections. The bill had passed the Senate with a bigger than two-thirds majority.

No mention of Pete Stark’s unhingedness.

Update Video of Stark Raving Mad:

Update 12:11pm Eastern. Oh, my Lord. Pete Stark is back on the floor ranting about us using billions of dollars to “kill innocent Iraqis, Iraqi children…We look at our shoes…we don’t want to talk about sending children to kill.”

GOP Rep. Hulshof points out that Stark did not support the original CHIP bill.

I wonder if Stark is looking at his shoes…

Update 11:57am Eastern. Rep. John Lewis sounds like he is going to collapse: “HEEELP THE CHILDREN! SUFFER THE CHILDREN!!” How embarrassing.

11:40am Eastern. Rahm Emanuel trots out another poster family…that is already covered by S-CHIP. Ed Morrissey is also liveblogging and also noted the same.

Update 11:26am Eastern. On the floor now…GOP Rep. Heather Wilson, who supports the entitlement expansion and is now one of the Dems’ favorite Republicans. New Mexico conservatives aren’t cheering.

Update 11:17am Eastern. Rep. Pete Stark starts blabbering about Republicans who don’t want to spend money on children, but instead want to spend it on “an illegal war” to be fought by children whom Republicans want to send to Iraq to “blow people up” and “get their heads blown up” for “his amusement.”

Stark: “Bush just likes to blow things up!!!”

Stark is reminded by his Democrat colleague “not to refer to the president in any personal way.” Fling those peas.

GOP Rep. Brady lambastes Rep. Stark. The man is a raving lunatic.

Dan Riehl wonders why the GOP didn’t fight back harder and smarter.

Update 11:14am Eastern. What does S-CHIP stand for? Rep. Steve King spells it out…


Update 10:58am Eastern. Here we go. Debate begins on HR 976. Rep. John Dingell insists the “bill is paid for.”

What’s he smoking?

Update 10:51am Eastern. Newly-elected Democrat Rep. Niki Tsongas has just been sworn in and she’s exulting in being there to cast her override vote on the S-CHIP expansion. Her husband, you may have forgotten, was one of the most outspoken critics of the entitlement crisis and gave out “Pander Bears” to politicians who refused to be honest about the looming fiscal disaster of the expanding social welfare state.

Those were the days.

Update 10:16am Eastern. House members are giving 1-minute speeches, which can be summed up thusly:

Bush hates children!

No, he doesn’t!

Head-counting taking place right now. Looks like the vote will take place around 12:30pm Eastern.


The House is in session now. I’ll be liveblogging the upcoming S-CHIP debate. You can watch the stream at C-Span’s website.

This morning’s AP dispatch reports the override is unlikely, with the Dems falling 15 votes short:

President Bush, anticipating that his veto of a $35 billion spending increase for children’s insurance will stand, has assigned three top advisers to try to negotiate a new deal with Congress.

Democrats appeared about 15 votes short in the House heading into Thursday’s attempt to override Bush’s veto of their $35 billion spending increase for the program. The president said his veto gives him a chance to weigh in on the future of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the president, pass pieces of legislation and the president can then use the veto to make sure he’s a part of the process,” Bush said. Leading the discussions for his administration are Mike Leavitt, the health and human services secretary; Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council; and Jim Nussle, the White House budget chief. But supporters of the bill passed last month by Congress say they already have compromised. The House originally had proposed a $50 billion increase over five years.

The bill is bipartisan and the Senate has shown it could override a veto. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has replied with an emphatic “no” when asked if he would seek a compromise with the administration. Both the House and Senate have to override a veto for a bill to become law over a president’s objection.


Through the program, the government and the states subsidize the cost of health coverage for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. Bush has recommended a $5 billion increase, bringing total spending over five years to $30 billion — half the level called for in the bill that he vetoed.

In case you missed it last night, here’s the GOP alternative that will be introduced later today.

While we wait, here’s food for thought from Peter Suderman:

…the White House, and indeed, most Republicans in Congress, has decided to fall in line with the Democrats’ broad goals for the program, choosing only to make weak arguments about how much additional money ought to be spent. It’s no wonder the party is in such bad shape. When all Republicans have to offer is a watered down version of program backed by Democrats, it shouldn’t be a surprise when the public doesn’t bite.

Bush, by refusing to take a tough stand against the program entirely, has allowed Democrats to use “for the children!” as a cudgel to crush him in the press, and, as today’s vote shows, they’ve been more than willing to take every opportunity to hit him as hard as they can. As a result, the entire Republican party — not exactly strong at the start — has emerged from the debate bloody and bruised.

If this is a preview of what’s to come in the debate over national health care, it will be tempting for conservatives pick up their lawn chairs and go home. Who wants to watch their team make this many mistakes in both goals and strategy? Congressional Republicans have made some minor buzz about “re-branding” the GOP as the party of economic conservatism, and Bush has recently taken to speaking in front of an oversized banner that reads, in huge capital letters, “Fiscal Responsibility.” That sounds great, but brands and slogans aren’t worth much without action to back them up.

As long as fiscal responsibility remains a banner to hang over milquetoast policies, Republicans are likely to continue to fare as badly as they have on S-CHIP. It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to. It’s time for GOP lawmakers to prove Democrats right and make Republican opposition to a program actually mean something.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Graeme Frost, Health care