The Hattiesburg American, 1/18/9

Every change of administration sets new priorities for Congress, but the Mississippi delegation will face special challenges this year.

Lawmakers will cast votes on legislation that would bring the state hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects, extend health care to the uninsured and make major changes in federal tax policy. Mississippi’s lawmakers also have pet projects and issues they hope to advance.

The House began the session with unfinished business from last year, the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

Reps. Travis Childers, D-1st District, Bennie Thompson, D-2nd District, and Gene Taylor, D-4th District, voted for the reauthorization of the program, which was approved by Congress last year but vetoed by President Bush.

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-3rd District, joined most House Republicans in voting “no.”

Harper objected to the cost of the bill and is concerned it may not prevent “fraudulent enrollment by those who are not eligible for the program such as illegal aliens.”