Majority Leader Hoyer: “This Is a Defining Moment”

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this morning to urge the House to override the President’s veto of legislation providing health insurance to 10 million children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Speaker, the moment of truth has arrived.  And now, our Republican friends have a very clear choice that they must make:

“They can stand with the 10 million American kids, who need, deserve and currently are eligible for health insurance under the CHIP program.

“They can stand with the bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate who supported compromise legislation to reauthorize CHIP – including 18 Republican Senators, and 45 House Republicans.

“They can stand with the states’ governors, the American Medical Association, the Association of Health Insurance Plans, pharmaceutical companies, nurses and children’s advocates.

“And, most importantly, they can stand with the American people – 81 percent of whom support expanding the CHIP program to cover more low-income children, according to a just-released CBS News Poll.

“Or, Mr. Speaker, House Republicans can choose today to stand with President Bush, who earlier this month broke his own campaign promise to extend insurance coverage under CHIP to millions of additional low-income American children.

“They can choose to stand with President Bush, who continues to make inaccurate claims about this bipartisan bill that he has vetoed – claims that have been repudiated by Senators Hatch, Grassley, Roberts and many other Republicans.

“Let me remind my Republican colleagues, here is what President Bush told the American people three years ago – when he was seeking their votes – at the Republican National Convention:  ‘In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of children who are eligible but not signed up for government health insurance programs.  We will not allow a lack of attention, or information, to stand between these children and the health care they need.’

“Yet, the President’s own proposal would force nearly one million low-income children who participate in CHIP today to be dropped from the program.

“In sharp contrast, this Congress has done exactly what the President said he would do, if re-elected.
         
“The American people have heard both sides of this issue – and they know the President is wrong.  They stand with America’s children.  And so must this Congress.

“I urge my Republican colleagues:  Look at the facts – and look into your hearts. Look beyond partisanship and politics.  Look at the pictures of your loved ones back in your office and ask: What if they were the ones today who needed health insurance?

“This is a defining moment for this Congress.  Let us come together and do the right thing – for our children and for our nation.  Let’s override the President’s unjustified veto of this compromise, bipartisan legislation – and ensure that 10 million low-income children have the health care coverage they need and deserve.”

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