Washington, D.C.-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this morning urging her colleagues to vote to override the President's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) bill that Congress passed last year. Despite strong bipartisan support, the House failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to override the President's veto. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
'For the past year we've been talking about the subject of how we make America healthier, how we bring many more children who are eligible to be enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program. We've had the debates, we've had the outside advocacy of the March of Dimes, of the Easter Seals, of the AMA, the AARP, of the Families USA, the YWCA, of the Catholic Hospitals Association, almost any organization that you can name, that has anything to do with the health of the American people, has endorsed the legislation that we have before us. That is important to the children, their families, to their communities, to the economic stability of their states, who have to provide health insurance for these children.
'In the last few days, we've all been working together in a bipartisan way to come up with an economic stimulus package. The recognition that we need a stimulus package points to the need further for this SCHIP legislation to become law. Let's make us working in a bipartisan way on the stimulus package a model for how we approach other issues as well.
'This SCHIP package has had strong bipartisan support from the start, in the House and in the Senate. In fact, the Senate has a veto-proof majority. Senator Hatch and Senator Grassley have been major architects of this legislation, two very distinguished Republican leaders in the United States Senate.
'The issue comes down to what is happening in America's households today. Unemployment is up, housing starts are down. The price of gasoline and food and health care is up, the stock market is down. So the indicators that some that are felt very closely and intimately by America's working families and some that are felt by our economy, all point to the need for us to take a new direction. And that new direction says, 'What can we do that is fiscally sound, that meets the needs of the children, that has bipartisan support? And strengthens our country by improving the health of our people?'
'One of the things that we can do is take the lead. Many children have come here to advocate on behalf of all children in our country, whether it was through the March of Dimes, Easter Seals, or other organizations. And that is to vote to override the President's veto. Let's remove all doubt in anyone's mind that this Congress of the United States understands our responsibility to the children, understands our responsibility to the future.
'We've had the debate. We know the facts, we know the figures. It's just a decision that people have to make about what is inside of them, about what their priorities are. And I hope the message from this Congress will be that that we care about the children and we care about enough about them that we will vote to override this veto.'