McAuliffe and Howell: Showdown in Richmond

Richmond capitolIt was a showdown Monday evening in Richmond between Governor Terry McAuliffe and House Speaker Bill Howell over Medicaid. From Michael Martz and the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, refused on Monday to allow the House to consider McAuliffe’s veto of budget restrictions on his ability to use federal funds for health coverage without the approval of the General Assembly.

Howell ruled the governor’s veto unconstitutional and out of order. That prevented a vote by either the House or Senate on whether to override the veto of budget amendments Republicans rammed through June 12 to prevent McAuliffe from unilaterally expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“I cannot idly allow unconstitutional actions to be considered by this body,” the speaker said in a statement. “To do otherwise would be an unacceptable acquiescence of legislative branch authority.”

The Governor was not happy with the House’s actions:

“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,” the governor said in a statement.

But McAuliffe referred to the “House’s failure to override my veto,” an indication that he feels free to pursue use of the federal funds to expand health coverage without assembly approval, which he vowed again to do.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans took advantage of their (possibly temporary) majority to reorganize and take control of all committee chairmanships. Augusta County’s Senator Emmett Hanger became chairman of the agriculture panel. (See political RTD reporter Jim Nolan’s Republicans take control of Senate.)

The good news is that the state budget has been finalized (see General Assembly finalizes budget averting a shutdown as GOP thwarts McAuliffe veto  by Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy with The Washington Post).

Read more about the procedural maneuverings (see House again blocks McAuliffe on Medicaid) and the continuing battle for Medicaid reform. Stay tuned as the showdown in Richmond continues….

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