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Pelosi: 'The Strength of Our Country is Defined by the Health and Well-Being of the American People, Starting With Our Children'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House Floor Wednesday in conjunction with a motion to postpone a vote to override the President's veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program until October 18th.  Below are the Speaker's remarks:

 

'Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding and I thank him for his tremendous work on behalf of health care for all Americans in our country, in this case our children.  I commend Mr. Pallone for his distinguished leadership as well and distinguished Chairmen Mr. Rangel and Mr. Dingell. 

 

'I salute the bipartisan vote that we had in the Congress to send the SCHIP legislation to the President of the United States.  It was bipartisan and it was about the children.  I salute the strong vote in the United States Senate and I commend Senators Hatch and Grassley for lending their weight and bipartisanship to this important legislation, joining Senators Rockefeller and Baucus on this important issue. 

 

'Madam Speaker, as we all know, today the President missed an opportunity to say to the children of America, 'your health and well-being are important to us, so important that we are making you a priority.' 

 

'Today, the President said 'no' to bipartisan legislation that would have extended health care to 10 million American children for the next five years.  The President said 'no' to giving assurances to America's working families that if they work hard and play by the rules, then we are their partners in raising the next generation of Americans and investing in their future.    

 

'In his veto statement, the President indicated that we were doing something that we were not, that we were expanding eligibility.  No, we were enrolling all of the children who are eligible.  In fact, we didn't have enough money to enroll all of them, but as many that could be afforded by a bill that could receive bipartisan support. 

 

'The President said that we are moving toward socialized medicine and that he supports private medicine.  Well, so do we.  This is about private medicine.  It's about children being able to get private insurance so they can have health care.  The fact is that 72 percent of the children on SCHIP receive their health care through private insurance programs.

 

'The strongest indication of the President's commitment to this initiative came when he was governor of Texas.  At that time, the state of Texas ranked 49 in its participation in SCHIP in meeting the needs of the children of Texas. 

 

'SCHIP started as a bipartisan initiative with a Democratic President, President Clinton, in the White House, and the Republican Congress coming together in a bipartisan way in order to provide for the needs of our children.  

 

'What I know will happen today is that we will vote for a time certain in two weeks for us to bring up the override of the veto.  By that time, I hope that with the 43 Governors across the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, that the bipartisan overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate, with every organization from AARP to YMCA and everything alphabetically in between, including Catholic Hospital Association, Families USA, American Medical Association, and the list goes on, that Members will listen to those that care about children, who have standing in caring about children, because I believe that every person in this Congress cares about children.

 

'To my colleagues, this is, as Mr. Hoyer said, a defining moment for the Congress of the United States.  The President has said 'no.' This Congress must not take no for an answer.  I urge my colleagues to vote 'aye' on a time certain when we can take up an override of the President's veto of the States Children Health Insurance Program, an initiative to provide 10 million children health insurance for five years. 

 

'The difference between us and the President is 41 days in Iraq.  For 41 days in Iraq, 10 million children can receive health care for one year.  Let's get our priorities in order.  Let's recognize that the strength of our country, in addition to being defined by military might, is defined by the health and well-being of the American people, starting with our children.'