Virginia House of Delegates Republicans have hired a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush for a legal analysis that says the Governor cannot expand Medicaid by executive order, without the approval of the legislature. The House leadership paid $25,000 in state funds for former Solicitor General Paul Clement’s analysis. Republicans believe this analysis would also apply to any public private partnerships the Governor may be pursuing.
Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell has ruled unconstitutional and out of order a line item veto by Governor McAuliffe. The governor vetoed language introduced by Republicans in the General Assembly prohibiting his use of executive action to expand Medicaid. The Speaker contends that the Governor can only veto specific appropriations and not language nor conditions. Howell cites former Democratic Speaker Tom Moss’s similar ruling against then-Republican Governor George Allen’s line item vetoes as precedent.
Last night (June 23), Republicans in the state Senate reorganized all committees to reflect their new narrow majority, thanks to the recent resignation of Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett. Currently, there are 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats in the Senate. A special election will be held on August 19th to fill Puckett’s seat. Republicans could add one seat to their slim majority, or Democrats could retain the seat and the Senate would again be evenly divided 20-20.
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced his intentions Friday (June 20) to expand the state’s Medicaid program administratively without the approval of the legislature and vetoed the General Assembly’s attempts to restrict him from doing so. McAuliffe says Republicans in the General Assembly have bowed to pressure from the Tea Party to deny 400,000 Virginians access to life-saving health care.
The General Assembly returns to the Capitol tonight (June 23) to consider Governor McAuliffe’s line item vetoes to the state budget, including one that sets the stage for him to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid. It takes a two-thirds majority in both houses to override a Governor’s veto. While the House, which has a Republican supermajority is expected to do so, the Senate where the GOP has a one seat advantage, is expected to sustain his changes.
Analyst Jeff Schapiro says Gov. Terry McAuliffe has several options on how to deal with the legislature's budget and the omission of any form of Medicaid expansion, which he favors. And newly minted congressional nominee David Brat so far is not responding to questions.
Attorney General Mark Herring says his office is implementing a series of reforms that will lead to the biggest advances in efficiency, IT infrastructure and transparency in the AG’s office in a generation, including the way outside counsel is hired. Herring wants to ensure Virginians that outside counsel is being used appropriately and that taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck when other representation is hired. Outside counsel firms will be prohibited from making campaign contributions to the Attorney General.
This morning Governor Terry McAuliffe will announce his actions on the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly last week, a budget many Democrats and health care advocates have urged him to amend by line item or veto entirely. At the insistence of conservative House Republicans, the new Republican majority in the Senate amended the budget last week to specifically prohibit the Governor from expanding the state’s Medicaid program by executive action.
Governor Terry McAuliffe addressed the Commonwealth Transportation Board yesterday to ask them to rethink how they approve projects, removing politics from the equation. McAuliffe attacked the halted U.S. 460 project as a waste of over 300 million in taxpayer dollars, rushed for political purposes.
GOP Congressional nominee David Brat says he will run a campaign of economic prosperity for Virginians in his first public statement since the primary. He doesn’t have enough phones, he needs computers, but his shockingly unexpected journey to the November general elections moved ahead yesterday, a week after he beat Eric Cantor by 11 percentage points in the Republican primary. Brat spoke briefly with reporters on his way to a Rotary Club breakfast in Midlothian, which was closed to the press.