The House is set to vote on legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) this week, and the Senate Finance Committee will also take up companion legislation. On the table are key provisions that would help more Latino children access health care by eliminating the five year waiting period legal immigrant children must endure before qualifying for coverage under federal law.
This will be the first test on immigration for the Republican Party following crushing defeats in November 2008, when millions of Latino voters walked away from the GOP and supported the Democratic Party in record numbers. Since then, a number of Republican politicians and strategists-including Senator John McCain and outgoing President George W. Bush-have credited Congressional Republicans’ handling of the immigration issue with destroying the Party’s imagine among Latino voters and prompting this mass exodus from the Party.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “This is the first test of the Republican Party on immigration since its historic losses with Latino voters in 2008. Will Republicans in Congress heed the advice of their party leaders and replace anti-immigrant rhetoric with reasonable solutions? Or will they reach for the playbook of the past, and try to turn health care for children into a heated political debate?
“The American people didn’t just vote for change in November, they voted for politicians to come together to solve tough problems. If the Republican Party fails to learn the lessons of the past, it is doomed to become a regional party for decades to come.”