186 House Democrats voted against keeping the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funded for the next six years as they opposed a stopgap spending measure in the House of Representatives Thursday that would keep the government open for the next four weeks.
Senate Democrats were likewise poised to vote against CHIP, as they declared earlier in the day that they had the votes to filibuster the spending bill and shut down the government.
(Republicans have taken to calling the impending shutdown the “Schumer shutdown,” for Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), in response.)
CHIP provides funds for health insurance for children from low-income families who are not poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid. CHIP funding is the number one issue for American voters overall, according to a recent poll by Politico and the Harvard University School of Public Health.
When he won Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate last month, Doug Jones called on both parties to put politics aside and vote to fund the CHIP program:
“Take this election,” Jones said, “take this election where the people of Alabama said we want to get something done, we want you to find common ground, we want you to talk. Take this opportunity in light of this election and go ahead and fund that CHIP program before I get up there. Put it aside and let’s do it for those million kids and 150,000 here in Birmingham, Alabama.”
Congress did not do so, but Jones proposed a bill last week that would extend CHIP funding for five years — one year shorter than the stopgap spending bill Democrats are rejecting.
CNN political analyst Gloria Borger offered her version of Democrats’ argument Thursday: “If this is so important to you Republicans, why didn’t you take it up earlier this year when you could have, when the Democrats wanted to deal with it? I mean, children’s health insurance is something that you can bring up on the floor any time and renew it, and they’ve been screaming about it — the Democrats have been screaming about it for quite some time.”
Voters in contested House and Senate districts this year can expect to see Republican advertisements noting that Democratic incumbents voted against funding CHIP. Only six House Democrats broke ranks to vote with the GOP.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.