Health-care bill for kids OK'd again; faces veto
A defiant Democratic-controlled Congress voted Thursday to provide health insurance to 4 million lower-income children, ignoring President...
WASHINGTON — A defiant Democratic-controlled Congress voted Thursday to provide health insurance to 4 million lower-income children, ignoring President Bush's threat of a second straight veto.
The legislation cleared the Senate on a vote of 64-30. It passed the House last week, but supporters were shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override Bush's threatened veto. Washington's Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray voted for the measure.
Attempts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to delay final passage of the bill drew objections from the GOP.
The veto-threatened measure would add an estimated 4 million beneficiaries to an existing program that provides coverage for children from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. The program now provides benefits to roughly 6 million children.
At a cost of $35 billion, the bill would be paid for through an increase in tobacco taxes, including a 61-cent rise on a package of cigarettes.
Ways and Means OKs $77.8B tax package
The House tax-writing panel Thursday advanced legislation to shield some 20 million middle-class taxpayers from being hammered this year by a tax meant to affect only the rich.
The $77.8 billion package approved by the Ways and Means panel also extends several dozen targeted tax breaks set to expire, providing relief for education costs, charitable donations, employers of Katrina victims and winemakers. It expands eligibility for the refundable child tax credit for a year.
The core issue in the package, approved 22-13, is the one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax, costing some $50.6 billion over 10 years. Without that fix, those taxpayers exposed to the tax could rise from some 4 million last year to as many as 25 million in the 2007 tax year.
Dems tie vet budget to education, health
Democrats struggling to win increases in health and education programs paired them Thursday with a popular budget bill for veterans, but President Bush held the upper hand in a veto showdown.
With Bush promising to veto a $151 billion bill for education, health and labor programs, Democrats tied the spending to a $65 billion measure for veterans' programs and military-base construction.
The move is aimed at winning a few additional votes for the education and health measure. It offers increases for community-health centers, education, health research and grants to community-action groups that help the poor.
Republicans and the White House said it was a ploy to pin billions of dollars in new spending on the backs of veterans. They promised to sustain Bush's promised veto.
Lawmakers took the first step Thursday on a bipartisan global-warming bill that would impose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases from power plants, industrial facilities and transportation. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., pushed the legislation out of his global-warming subcommittee by a 4-3 vote.
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