The Republican National Committee said this week that late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and Senate Democrats have been making "false claims" and "distorting the truth" about congressional efforts to renew funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, citing recent news reports and the Washington Post fact checker.
Kimmel and Democratic lawmakers have recently accused Republicans of ignoring CHIP, a federal program created to fund health insurance for children in families that cannot afford private coverage but have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, and letting it expire by not reauthorizing funds for it.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) tweeted on Thursday that Republicans "let funding expire" for CHIP.
"It’s been 74 days since Republicans let funding expire for children’s health insurance and community health centers," Stabenow tweeted. "Congress needs to act TODAY to make sure children and families can still get health care!"
It’s been 74 days since Republicans let funding expire for children’s health insurance and community health centers. Congress needs to act TODAY to make sure children and families can still get health care! pic.twitter.com/ztbDvFscuy
— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) December 13, 2017
The same day, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey (Pa.) said in a Twitter post that it was the "inaction by a Republican Congress" that allowed CHIP to expire.
"It is unbelievable that, due to the inaction by a Republican Congress more intent on giving tax breaks to the wealthy than health care to kids, CHIP has expired," Casey tweeted.
It is unbelievable that, due to inaction by a Republican Congress more intent on giving tax breaks to the wealthy than health care to kids, CHIP has expired. https://t.co/tRMu5GHiqv
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) December 13, 2017
Other Democratic senators have made similar comments, as did Kimmel, who on his show Monday night called Republicans "disgusting" for putting CHIP on the "back burner" as they focus on tax reform.
The RNC addressed these claims in a new research article, showing evidence that Democrats opposed GOP-backed bills to fund CHIP in recent months because they had not agreed on offsets to fund the program.
The Washington Post noted in a fact check published Wednesday that the Senate Finance Committee approved the CHIP funding extension in October, but lawmakers could not agree on how to fund the program.
The House passed legislation to fund CHIP for five years last month, despite opposition from Democrats, who opposed how the legislation was paid for.
Both the Post and a New York Times article noted that when recent CHIP reauthorization bills did pass this year, only Democrats opposed them.
"The House committee eventually approved the bill, by a vote of 28 to 23, with all of the opposition coming from Democrats," the Times reported in October, after the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed funding for CHIP.
Democrats have said they oppose the bills because the legislation would take money from Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to offset the cost.
Kimmel parroted the Democratic talking points during his opening monologue on Monday while holding his baby son, who had just undergone heart surgery.
Kimmel claimed that Republicans were ignoring CHIP funding as they fought to get "tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors" through a tax reform bill.
The Post‘s Glenn Kessler debunked that claim.
"CHIP funding is being negotiated even as Congress is debating a tax plan." Kessler said. "Both the House and Senate have signaled they support reauthorization of CHIP. The impasses over funding had led to some uncertainty in a handful of states, but there is no immediate crisis—and the recent stopgap funding bill provides flexibility to keep CHIP programs running in states."
"CHIP is completely unrelated to the tax legislation; in fact, it won't be and was never going to be part of the tax bill. Congress is able to work on several issues at once," Kessler added.
Kessler also pushed back multiple times on Kimmel's claim that CHIP has become a partisan issue, citing multiple examples of both parties voicing their overwhelming support for the program.
After providing these examples, the RNC gave both Kimmel and Senate Democrats an "F" on "The Truth Test."