Now GOP-Controlled Virginia Senate Forces Dems to Cave on Medicaid Expansion
Virginia Republicans snatched control of the state Senate on Monday, immediately ending a budget stalemate by pushing Democrats to agree to pass a spending plan without Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top priority.
The power shift forced Senate Democrats to yield after a protracted standoff that had threatened to shut down state government in less than a month, according to several lawmakers with direct knowledge of the deal. Democratic negotiators agreed in a closed-door meeting Monday to pass a budget without expanding health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.
The developments saddled McAuliffe with a General Assembly fully in the hands of a party fiercely opposed to his agenda.
The news followed the unexpected resignation of a fellow Democrat, a senator from southwest Virginia, who pulled himself out of the running for a state job Monday amid claims that he had traded his seat for the position. Phillip P. Puckett’s surprise exit from the Senate could doom McAuliffe’s legislative agenda for his remaining 31 / 2 years, political observers said.
With no allies in power in the Capitol, McAuliffe will have to sidestep a recalcitrant legislature, perhaps by turning to executive orders, to achieve his priorities, which, aside from expanding Medicaid, include job creation and expanding abortion rights and gay rights.