What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : The Chronically Ill : S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Smith of Oregon amendment on reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 105)
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S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Smith of Oregon amendment on reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 105     Mar 23, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote occurred on an amendment by Gordon Smith, R-Ore., that would allow for an increase in the federal tax on cigarettes by at least 61 cents per pack. The amendment would assume that the revenue raised by the change would be used to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The SCHIP program -- funded primarily through taxes on tobacco products -- helps low income families with children afford health insurance, and currently covers about 6 million kids.

"This amendment is the one amendment that proposes a real policy that will raise real dollars so we can take a meaningful step in keeping the promise of SCHIP," Smith said.

The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress' budget priorities in fiscal 2008. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Democratic leadership was prepared to accept the amendment, meaning they would counsel their members to vote yes.

A voice vote was called on the amendment, but Jim Bunning, R-Ky., asked for a roll call vote.

Fiscal conservatives bristle at such large raises in SCHIP -- including the White House, which has threatened a veto over the bill's spending levels -- believing it is nothing more than an attempt to expand government-run health care. Progressives, on the other hand, see the program as vital to ensuring the health and well-being of low-income children achieved by taxing a social vice with severe health impacts for Americans (cigarette smoking).

The amendment was adopted 59-40. All but four Democrats voted for the amendment. A majority of Republicans opposed the amendment, with 13 voting yes. Thus language that would allow for an increase in federal cigarette taxes by up to 61 cents per pack was approved, and consideration of the budget resolution continued.

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