It is a condemnation of Congress today that a popular and effective program with longtime bipartisan support remains without a long-term funding solution two months after an important deadline.

Congressional Republicans, who moved so quickly to try to take health insurance from millions of Americans and hand tax breaks to the wealthy, have shown little urgency in funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, placing health care for millions of poor children in peril.

Since a deadline to extend funding for the program passed Sept. 30, little has been accomplished. The Republican-controlled House passed along party lines a five-year extension that includes unnecessary cuts to health-care spending and changes to Medicaid and Medicare; it is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate.

The Trump administration has been silent on the program’s future, except to issue a budget proposal that cuts billions from CHIP and places further limits eligibility.

The inability to act is a sign of a contentious Congress, and one that has lost all perspective.

CHIP was created in 1997 by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, then a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, to cover children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance. It now covers nearly 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women at a cost of $15 billion a year; most participants come from families that make under two times the federal poverty level, or $49,200 for a family of four.

Since the creation of CHIP, the uninsured rate among children has dropped from 14 percent to less than 5 percent, and it has been credited with improving care, solidifying family finances, and helping kids perform better in school, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For a child’s health, nothing is more important than preventative care, and CHIP allows million of families to afford that care on the necessary regular basis.

But the federal government pays for 88 percent or more of the program, and without a solution from Congress, five states and Washington, D.C., will run out of funding by Dec. 31.

A total of 31 states will run out of money by March. (Maine’s program, which covers about 23,000 kids, is funded through June.)

Normally, even on this tight of a schedule, the states would assume that Congress, after a few weeks of political stunts, would fund the program before any real damage is done. But these times aren’t normal – Republicans are not taking the deadlines seriously, so there is reason to worry.

At the very least, with notices starting to go to affected families, there will be anxiety among those who depend on the program. At worst, states will be faced with a tough decision – fund the program, or lose it.

New Hampshire already has voted to use state funds. D.C. officials are discussing the matter; it would cost the district $12.5 million to cover its 14,000 people in CHIP.

West Virginia has decided to shut down the program if federal funding is not restored by Feb. 28. Arizona will do the same thing – state law there says the program dies without federal money.

If Congress continues to drag its feet, every state will face a similar situation, and it will be a shame. Funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program should be automatic, something done as a matter of course and without fanfare. Instead, this Congress has it barreling toward a crisis.