Approximately 400,000 Virginians will continue to be denied access to health care thanks to the state house speaker and other GOP members of the House of Delegates. Unfortunately, with a newly elected Democratic governor, they’ve had to stoop to more dubious tactics than your average filibuster.
ABC 13 reports Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was set to propose a budget that included using funds offered by the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. However, GOP lawmakers in the House of Delegates had decided upon two amendments to the budget that not only prevented Medicaid expansion, but required the governor to receive permission from the Legislature before any such expansion be attempted.
That’s when the cynical desperation really kicked in. Though the House told Governor McAuliffe’s administration that the budget would be presented no sooner than June 16, Speaker William Howell sent clerks to gain access to secured offices on the day before—Father’s Day, when practically no one was present. They even needed to have Capitol police let them in.
Why? Well, the governor only has seven days to review the budget and decide on any revisions. Republican lawmakers were that determined to cut down his deadline and, with any luck, sneak some new amendments by.
This wasn’t as easy as leaving a document on a desk and walking away either. McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan, deplored the actions in a letter addressed to the speaker.
Even on a normal business day, very few people — including members of the governor’s Cabinet — can gain access to this suite of offices. We certainly do not expect to have agents and employees of the General Assembly roaming through these offices on weekends.
Despite these irrational, immature, and completely expected breaches of decency, Governor McAuliffe still reviewed the budget on time and attempted to line-item veto both amendments rushed in over the holiday. These were two of eight vetoes the governor issued on the budget; the other six went through, but Speaker Howell declared the two concerning Medicaid expansion “out of order.”
The governor expressed subdued frustration in a statement last Monday, stating:
I am continually surprised and disappointed by the lengths to which Republicans in the House of Delegates will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to health care.
Watch the news report on Virginia’s GOP breaking into the governor’s office.
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