Monday night, the Speaker of the House Bill Howell ruled two of those eight line-item vetoes out of order. One dealt with the divisive issue of Medicaid expansion.
The power struggle in determining the future of Medicaid expansion could now end up in the courts. Howell ruled that the governor cannot act alone in accepting federal funds to close the coverage gap. His word is final unless it gets turned over in the courts.
Governor McAuliffe had tried to challenge the House Medicaid amendment that blocked him from expanding Medicaid, but the speaker shot down that veto. Howell also tossed out Governor McAuliffe's veto on funding new judgeships.
While some on the left called this political maneuvering, Republicans spoke out about Medicaid expansion and said the governor was overstepping his bounds.
"We just feel very strongly would be a very bad move for Virginia. You're putting 400,000 people on a broken system. You've got a third of doctors that don't take Medicaid patients now,” said 66th District Delegate Kirk Cox (R).
During the Senate's meeting, lawmakers used the time as an opportunity to reorganize in light of Democratic State Senator Phil Puckett's resignation.
The new GOP majority took control of all committees and Republican Senator Walter Stosch has regained his old post as Senate president pro tem.
Governor McAuliffe released a statement on his response to the evening. He said he was pleased that most of the line item-vetoes caused no controversy. He called the House's actions "parliamentary gimmicks". Read the statement in full below.
Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release
Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement this evening after the General Assembly failed to override any of his line item vetoes to the 2015-2016 biennial budget:
“I am pleased that the General Assembly upheld six of the eight vetoes that I applied to the budget without controversy.
“With respect to the Speaker’s ruling on my veto of the Stanley floor amendment, 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. Instead of putting all of my vetoes through the process prescribed by the Constitution of Virginia, House Republicans robbed the voters of their voice by using a procedural gimmick to obstruct the normal legislative process where this veto was concerned. If my veto was as objectionable as House leadership claimed, they should not have had any difficulty overriding it in both chambers. Instead, the Speaker elected to exercise powers that the Constitution of Virginia reserves solely for members of the Judicial Branch.
“As my team and I evaluate the House’s failure to override my veto, I remain focused on expanding access to health care for Virginia residents, and I intend to move forward on that goal as I have promised. Virginians elect their leaders to act in their best interests, not to bog good public policy down in parliamentary gimmicks.
“With respect to the his ruling on the judges veto, Speaker Howell once again resorted to procedural tricks in order to prevent the representatives of the people of Virginia from voting on the vetoes that I lawfully submitted to the General Assembly. I have no objection to the General Assembly’s authority to appoint these judges while in session; my veto was aimed at defending the powers of the Governor against an unconstitutional overreach by the legislature. It is unfortunate that the Speaker elected to cast these judicial slots into unnecessary uncertainty, particularly after I proposed a straightforward legislative remedy this afternoon. My team and I will evaluate the Speaker’s ruling on this veto and I will take the actions I deem best for the people who elected me to serve.”