The Senate has passed a $32.8 billion bill to dramatically expand children's health insurance, the Washington Post reports. The State Children's Health Insurance Program will now cover 11 million low-income children, up from 7 million. The bill, which will be funded by an extra 61-cent tax on every packet of cigarettes, is expected to be signed into law by President Obama next week.
Former President Bush vetoed similar legislation twice despite its broad bipartisan support. Yesterday's 66-32 vote, split largely along party lines. Republicans were angered by a provision dropping a ban on legal immigrants enrolling in the program until they have lived in the country five years. GOP lawmakers said they felt "betrayed," and warned that the partisan split could spell trouble for health reform discussions ahead.