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    House Approves SCHIP Expansion Bill

    Bill calls for an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco to fund a $35 billion expansion.

    WASHINGTON -- A potential increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco gained ground earlier this week, as the House of Representatives voted 265-159 to add $35 billion over five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), by increasing the federal excise tax by 61-cents, reported The Associated Press.

    While the House approved the bill, the margin was not enough to override a veto from President Bush, who has issued veto threats, maintaining that it calls for too much money, that it relies on an increase in the tobacco tax and that it could lead to replacing private insurance with government grants, the report stated.

    While the Senate is to take up the bill this week and enough members are expected to vote to prevent a veto, the bill still could be blocked because both chambers must have two-thirds majorities to overcome a presidential veto, the report stated.

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