WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House is expected to meet Wednesday and pass a bill that will expand healthcare to an estimated 4 million additional children.
The State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has already passed
Lawmakers in the House have said they too will approve the bill and send
it up to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Obama has made clear he wants to sign the bill quickly, calling it a bipartisan legislative success at a time when his economic stimulus bill is triggering a partisan divide.
"As the worsening economy causes families to lose their jobs and health insurance, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that every child in America has access to affordable health care," the president said in a statement on Friday.
The vote in the Senate was 66-32. All those voting against the bill were Republicans, but nine Republicans voted in favor.
SCHIP covers more than 6 million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid - the federal health insurance program for the poor - but who can't afford private insurance.
The bill expands SCHIP by more than $32 billion over five years.
The bill's supporters say it would extend the program to an estimated 4 million additional children, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.
Opponents argued that, among other things, it will allow undocumented immigrants to illegally access taxpayer-financed healthcare, and is insufficiently funded.
President Bush vetoed two similar bills in 2007, arguing at the time that the legislation would have encouraged families to leave the private insurance market for the federally funded, state-run program.