Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) voted against a resolution on Thursday that would have extended government funding through February 16 and, among other things, would also have extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.
“The congresswoman voted against the [resolution] this past week because she would like to see Republicans work with Democrats to pass a long-term funding bill,” Sewell’s communications director, Christopher MacKenzie, told Yellowhammer.
Sewell’s no-vote is notable because back in December, she broke with her party and voted for a short-term funding bill, chiefly because of CHIP.
“The government funding/CHIP bill that passed in December wasn’t perfect, but Rep. Sewell voted for it because she was not willing to let CHIP expire,” MacKenzie told Yellowhammer earlier this month.
So what has changed? Why was the Congresswoman willing to vote for a short-term CHIP solution back in December, but wasn’t willing to support this recent bill which had a six-year CHIP extension?
“In December, CHIP was facing a slightly different timeline,” MacKenzie said. “The vote on the CR happened on Dec. 21 as members were leaving for the holiday and the CHIP freeze was starting Jan. 1 – there was zero room for any additional votes to ensure CHIP had funding.”
“Also, the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill means that new cost estimates have come out this month about the price tag on extending CHIP,” MacKenzie said. “According to the CBO, extending CHIP for ten years would actually provide savings because fewer families would enroll in the federally subsidized healthcare marketplaces. So why extend for just six years?”