CHIP has Become a Bargaining Chip in the Debate over the Budget

Congress hasn’t funded CHIP yet. What is happening is that Republicans won’t pass a clean CHIP funding bill. They are using it as a bargaining chip in terms of striking a deal on the 2018 budget.[1]

At the same time, Democrats are then rejecting a budget that includes CHIP but doesn’t include DACA provisions (or that generally includes cuts to social spending and increases to defense spending instead of increases to both in equal measure).

In other words, both parties claim they want to fund CHIP, but the majority party in power (the Republicans) won’t just pass a clean CHIP bill and Democrats can’t because they don’t have the voting power due to not having enough seats in Congress.

So it isn’t that one party is the hero and the other the villain, it is that logistically the Republican party is in control and has decided to use CHIP as a bargaining chip. Meanwhile, since the party in power also doesn’t seem intent on passing a clean DACA bill, the Democrats are using that as a bargaining chip.

Many would rightly argue that clean bills are best. That the budget should be a clean bill, that CHIP should, and that DACA should. However, if the budget is clean, and then CHIP and DACA are not dealt with, then the Democrats fail to deliver two important items to their base (and likewise, if CHIP is funded, but DACA isn’t dealt with, then it is very likely a clean DACA bill never pass… even more likely than CHIP). Meanwhile, even a clean budget bill requires the issue of defense spending vs. social spending to be dealt with.

It is likely a deal will be struck that addresses all of the above, however for the moment the government is headed toward a shutdown.

The GOP are hoping that people see Democrats as obstructing CHIP funding, but the reality is that the Republicans have put off funding CHIP for months now so they could use it as a bargaining chip in this moment. Thus, that position is more than a little dishonest. However, it is true that Democrats aren’t taking any deal on the table just because it has CHIP in it, and thus by not accepting enough concessions to the Republican party are effectively in the way of CHIP (and the rest of the government getting funding).

So who should have fingers pointed at them? Both parties! However, who is in power, that would be the Republicans. This could all be fixed right now with a clean budget that balanced social spending and defense spending, a clean DACA bill, and a clean CHIP bill (or with all of those addressed in the budget bill), but whether or not that will happn in uncertain.

Citations

  1. Let’s remember: 9 million kids’ health insurance is at stake in this budget fight. WashingtonPost.com.

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