The White House will be so disappointed. Obama officials were really counting on McAuliffe to make this Medicaid expansion happen in good time, and McAuliffe in turn was really counting on his boozing-and-schmoozing skills to translate into his own made-up version of bipartisan governance. He has so far been remarkably unsuccessful at persuading either Republican legislators or Virginian voters to come around to his way of thinking on the proposed expansion, and there’s been some speculation that McAuliffe might keep up a budget standoff that could lead to the shutdown of the Virginia state government this summer — but the sudden resignation of a Democratic state senator earlier this month gave Republicans the full General-Assembly majority they needed to try to block Medicaid expansion for good. McAuliffe exasperatedly approved most of the state budget this week, but vetoed Republicans’ added anti-Medicaid amendment, via WaPo:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed portions of the state budget Friday, setting Virginia up for a legal showdown with legislative Republicans who oppose his efforts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
McAuliffe exercised his line-item veto power to strike budget language that Republicans had hoped would block expansion of Medicaid.
McAuliffe railed against Republican opposition to expansion as he announced the move, referring to GOP leaders as stubborn and unwilling to compromise. He said that he would have vetoed the entire budget if it were not just 10 days until the end of the fiscal year, risking a government shutdown.
The General Assembly will take the budget back up on Monday, but for McAuliffe, of course, the fact that the legislature is decidedly against him is no reason to back off of his quest to find a way to expand Medicaid via executive action, à la President Obama. Good grief.
The governor for a month has been quietly exploring ways to get around the General Assembly to provide health care to 400,000 uninsured Virginians. On Friday, he publicly stated that he was pursuing such options.
“Secretary Hazel will have a plan on my desk by no later than September, first detailing how we can move Virginia health care forward even in the face of the demagoguery, lies, fear and cowardice that have gripped this debate for too long,” McAuliffe said, referring to Health and Human Resources Secretary William A. Hazel Jr.