A top House Democrat is trying to convince Republicans to delay this week's scheduled vote on a bill to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program, in order to leave time for more bipartisan talks.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said at a district event in New Jersey Monday that the House is expected to vote on the bill this week. Pallone is urging Republicans to reconsider and rethink controversial funding offsets for the five-year reauthorization of CHIP and two-year reauthorization of funding to community health centers.
"If it passes the House this week and the Senate hasn't acted and we have to go to conference, we are just gonna delay this thing for months and the end result could be we don't deal with this until the end of the year," he said.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Pallone serves as ranking member, passed the reauthorization bill earlier this month by a party-line vote. Democrats were incensed that Republicans used funding from an Obamacare disease prevention fund and raised premiums on Medicare seniors that earn $500,000 or more to pay for it.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., delayed sending the reauthorization bill to the House floor, and decided to reopen talks with Democrats to reach a new deal on funding offsets.
Those talks have been at an impasse as Republicans and Democrats trade barbs over the funding offsets. Walden charged that Democrats have made no new offers, while Democrats claim Republicans have not budged on using Obamacare and Medicare premiums to pay for the bill.
Meanwhile, a CHIP reauthorization bill passed the Senate Finance Committee but senators have not decided yet on funding offsets.
The CHIP program expired on Sept. 30 but states won't start to run out of funding until late November at the earliest, and most won't run out until early 2018.
Pallone said at the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center, a community health center, that each day that goes by without funding "is going to have a negative impact on you."