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Decisive House Victory for Kids’ Health Bill Should Inform Senate Vote

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 01/14/2009 at 5:35pm

baby health care

The swift, decisive re-authorization of a health care bill aimed at America’s poorest kids, including lawfully present immigrant children, was a clear victory today in the U.S. House. A statement from President-Elect Obama shows just how urgent legislation like SCHIP (as the bill is known) is during times like these:

“In this moment of crisis, ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens.”

Even better news for immigrants?

While some legislators were angling to remove the “ICHIA” section of the legislation, which covers lawfully present immigrant children and pregnant women, SCHIP moved forward with the provision firmly intact. This means no more five-year ban for immigrant children in desperate need of medical treatment, if enacted.

Clearly, a new day for immigrants is dawning.

Click here to see how your representative voted (and don’t forget to thank them for supporting the legislation).

The Senate would be wise to follow the House’s lead, especially that of Speaker of the House Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman Becerra (D-CA), and Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R – FL), in moving forward similar legislation that includes immigrant children. There will no doubt be pressure on Senators from anti-immigrant groups to peel off major portions of the bill. As America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry wrote yesterday in the Huffington Post:

Our country has demanded change and the results of the 2008 election were clear. The American public is looking for solutions to tough problems, not more of the same. We hope that the GOP has taken notice of this new reality and will rise above hateful rhetoric to do what is right for our country. The political survival of their Party, not to mention the health of our nation’s children, depends on it.

Let’s hope that our Senators are paying attention and cast a vote for America’s future as decisively as the US House did today.

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