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Ohio GOP takes aim at Sherrod Brown but may have missed target

By Jack Torry • Dec 22, 2017 at 6:12 PM

WASHINGTON — The Ohio Republican Party took aim Friday at Sen. Sherrod Brown, but the GOP may have missed the target.

In a tweet Friday, the state party assailed Brown (D-Ohio) for "hypocrisy" after he voted against a temporary spending bill Thursday that keeps the federal government open until Jan. 19.

Because the spending bill includes a three-month extension of the children's health insurance program known as CHIP, Ohio Republicans tweeted that Brown "voted against extending CHIP for American children, but went on TV to bash Republicans on CHIP."

But the Republicans failed to note that not only is Brown a longtime supporter of CHIP, the Ohio Democrat contended in a Senate floor speech Thursday a three-month extension "provides no certainty to the states that are running CHIP."

Instead, Brown called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to pass a five-year extension of the program, which provides health care to more than 200,000 low-income children in Ohio.

Brown pointed out the Senate Finance Committee last October approved a five-year extension which would cost $9 billion. Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who both serve on the committee, voted for the bill.

"It's ready to go," Brown said. "If Republican leaders would put it on the floor today, it would pass. I assume it would pass with at last 90 votes."

Brown faces re-election next year, with State Treasurer Josh Mandel his likely GOP opponent.

"Josh Mandel is laundering his lies through the Ohio Republican Party," said Preston Maddock, a Brown's campaign communication director. "He has not said a word about the 209,000 Ohio children who could lose health insurance if CHIP isn't responsibly funded. Sherrod Brown is one of CHIP's strongest advocates."

Senate Republican leaders opted for the three-month extension because the Senate version approved by the finance committee differs sharply from the measure approved in November by House Republicans.

The House bill pays for extending CHIP by cutting $10.5 billion from a program created by the 2010 health law known as Obamacare that helps finance improvements in the public health system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now receives a large chunk of that money.

In addition, Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio joined 11 other governors this month in pleading with congressional Republicans to pass a CHIP extension.

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©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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