Trump tweets CHIP should not be in short-term funding bill

Greg Nash

President Trump on Thursday appeared to break with GOP congressional leaders ahead of a key vote to prevent a government shutdown, saying he did not want a children’s health program funded as part of the bill to keep the government operating.

Trump’s tweet referred to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is extended for six years in a House bill to fund the government for four weeks.

“CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!” Trump tweeted.

Republicans were quick to say that Trump’s tweet was not a problem even as they sought to correct the president.

“It’s actually not causing us problems at all,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said at a press conference, noting that he had spoken to Trump Thursday morning. 

“I’ve spoken with the president; he fully supports passing what we’re bringing to the floor today,” Ryan said.  
White House spokesman Raj Shah later on Thursday sought to clarify that Trump does support the current short-term GOP funding bill, citing the military and making no mention of CHIP. 
“The President supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House,” Shah said. 

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, appeared to correct Trump, tweeting that the bill included a long-term extension of the health program. 

“The current house Continuing Resolution package has a six-year extension of CHIP, not a 30 day extension,” he tweeted.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Katie Niederee, said that the Senate Finance Committee chairman is “working with the White House this morning to get clarification” on the tweet.

“There should be no objections to moving this bipartisan, six-year extension immediately to prevent gaps in coverage,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, didn’t mention the tweet in floor remarks Thursday morning, but did keep up the pressure on Democrats to support the spending bill because it funds CHIP. He pointed to past remarks from Democrats in support of funding the health bill.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) fired back, calling it “outrageous” to say Democrats don’t support CHIP. 

Democrats say the program should have been funded months ago, not used as a political maneuver on this funding bill. 

“If we were in charge of this chamber we would have never never let it expire,” Schumer said.  “Your majority did, Leader McConnell.” 

The government will shut down on Saturday unless Congress passes new legislation, but Republicans in both chambers are facing obstacles.

In the House, it’s not clear that Ryan can muster 218 votes from his own conference in the face of unified Democratic opposition. A key demand from Democrats is that the bill address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, under which certain immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children can get permission to work and go to school in the United States. Trump is unwinding the Obama-era program.

If the bill does get through the House, Republicans face a filibuster from Democrats in the Senate. Only one Democrat in the Senate has so far committed to vote for a measure that does not address DACA.

GOP leaders have emphasized the inclusion of the children’s health program to try to pressure Democrats to support the bill.

Democrats counter that Republicans have been playing politics and should have continued the program months ago. 

“POTUS again undermining Republican leaders’ plans on the House floor … on the day of a big vote,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), wrote on Twitter in response to Trump’s tweet.

Updated at 12:17 p.m.

Tags CHIP Chuck Schumer Continuing resolution Donald Trump Health insurance John Cornyn Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Orrin Hatch Paul Ryan Trump tweets

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