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Wisconsin Dems Argue GOP Put Tax Reform Ahead Of Children’s Health Coverage

Dems Say GOP Should Prioritize Kids Health Coverage Over Tax Bill

Wisconsin capitol
Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Democrats from Wisconsin’s congressional delegation are blasting Republican colleagues for putting tax reforms ahead of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The program provides low-cost health coverage for kids nationwide, and it has historically received bipartisan support.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said the program is vital to providing care for 9 million children across the country. Wisconsin has enough money to pay for around 171,000 children in the program until next April. Baldwin, a Democrat, said she’d like Republicans to slow down on the tax bill to prioritize CHIP.

“There is no reason in the world why we can’t work together to reauthorize the program and get it back on track,” she said. “Until and unless Mitch McConnell is willing to bring it to the Senate floor and Paul Ryan to the House floor, we’re going to stay in this state where it’s expired.”

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On Dec. 3, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC’s “This Week” that funding for CHIP will be included in a year-end spending bill.

“We need to make sure the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is expiring, gets to panel before the end of the year,” McConnell said. “We have another supplemental for Puerto Rico and for Florida and for Texas. All of that will be in this package that we’ll be dealing with at some point in the next couple of weeks.”

In the U.S. House, Democrats shared similar sentiments as their colleagues in the U.S. Senate. In a statement Thursday, Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, called on Republicans to “stop stonewalling our efforts and reauthorize CHIP immediately.”

Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, said funding for the program hasn’t been reauthorized because of a lack of priorities among Republicans.

“My Republican colleagues have been so singularly focused on delivering huge tax breaks to the most wealthy and large corporations to allow the Children’s Health (Insurance) Program to just slip and to slide without giving it the attention that it deserves,” he said.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, agreed that CHIP and other programs have been neglected by their Republican colleagues.

“They can’t seem to get to other things that we’ve always gotten done while they’re trying to get tax cuts for their wealthy donors,” said Pocan. “It’s really been unfortunately just a failure of the Republican leadership in Congress is why it hasn’t been scheduled for a vote, but I think the vast majority of members both Democrat and Republican and certainly myself support extending that program.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, issued a statement Wednesday on CHIP, saying the program is “vital to sustaining a reliable health care system that works for all Americans, regardless of age or income.”

Gallagher also argued that tax reform needs to be addressed.

“The current tax code is an outdated, unfair and complicated mess that punishes working families and employers in northeast Wisconsin,” wrote Gallagher. “I’m proud of our tax reform effort which is centered on allowing families in Wisconsin to make choices on how they spend their money, rather than laundering their money through special interests in Washington, D.C. While no bill is perfect, doing nothing is simply not an option.”

Republican Congressmen Sean Duffy, Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, and House Speaker Paul Ryan did not return requests for comment.