RICHMOND, VA, 9 MARCH 2018: Senate Democrats today voted to support Senate Joint Resolution 248, formally requesting Governor Northam call a Special Session of the General Assembly to approve a budget agreement.
Yesterday, Senate Democrats rejected two resolutions that would have extended session for 30 and 3 days, respectively.
Today, Senate Democrats joined Senate Republicans and approved Senate Joint Resolution 248 by a 40 to 0 vote. Subsequently, the House of Delegates introduced and passed its own resolution calling for a special session. House Joint Resolution 576 was approved after Senate Joint Resolution 248 was communicated to the House.
Both the Senate and House resolutions call on Governor Northam to convene a Special Session. They would also allow the General Assembly to elect judges during the Special Session.
“I am grateful to Senate Democrats for joining us in approving this resolution for a Special Session,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City). “I was also glad to see the House follow our lead in issuing a resolution of their own.
“This budget impasse may prove as difficult to resolve as those that occurred in 2006 and 2014. With more than $3.3 billion separating the two budget proposals on revenues and over $840 million in differences on spending, I cannot envision how this situation could be resolved quickly.
“I agree with Speaker Cox that the ‘two budgets differ dramatically on healthcare.’ There, however, is where our agreement ends.
“The House’s plan, which they assert was crafted to avoid straight Obamacare Medicaid expansion, is barely distinguishable from straight Obamacare Medicaid expansion. As demonstrated by the Senate Education and Health Committee, their ‘work requirement’ is little more than a ‘work suggestion’. The ‘taxpayer safety switch’ they tout is actually featured in all the Medicaid expansion plans promoted by former Governor McAuliffe, including this year’s introduced budget.
“There is only one way to resolve this matter expeditiously: The House needs to produce a ‘clean’ budget, with responsible, conservative, and sustainable levels of spending.”
“The House has been very disingenuous in characterizing the provisions of the Senate budget regarding Medicaid,” Senate President Pro Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford) remarked. “Nothing in the Senate budget plan – nothing – is in anyway comparable to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
“As Virginians know, the Senate budget plan rightly places a priority on those for whom Medicaid was intended. We make no apologies for laying out a framework for how future revenues should be directed. Their claim that our proposal either spends or would spend $440 million is simply false.
“Every Virginia budget includes features that are aspirational in nature. In fact, the House’s budget has similar features on additional salary increases beyond the two percent they included. That we prioritized those on the waiting list for intellectual and developmentally disabled waivers is a good thing.
“The Senate budget rejects Medicaid expansion but continues our nearly two decades effort to cover a few thousand of the most vulnerable in our state.
“We have been in contact with the Trump Administration, and they have been unequivocal in their position that states should not be expanding Medicaid. The House has chosen to ignore OMB Director Mulvaney’s admonitions of at their own risk – and at Virginia’s.
“House Republicans worked with us to pass our Healthcare package, which included practical conservative solutions to provide relief from the high premiums and exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses characteristic of Obamacare. I hope we can use that model of cooperation, and retain our conservative principles, by producing a budget agreement that spends $800 million less.”
“I relayed to the entire House Republican Caucus yesterday that I do not support their plan or their budget,” said Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R-Augusta).
“I would not support what the House has referred to as ‘straight’ Medicaid expansion. I would insist on a much more robust work requirement, similar to those we enacted to reform welfare during the Allen Administration. If the Governor sends down a plan that doesn’t include a real work requirement, bend the cost curve, and stabilize the marketplace, I will not support it.”
“From the first day of session to Sine Die, Senate Republicans have had 21 members united for a clean budget, without Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion scheme,” noted Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover). “We have communicated this to House Republican leadership repeatedly. Yesterday, we reiterated our position to the entire House Republican Caucus.
“We are committed to keeping the promises we made to the citizens who elected us. Our position on this issue has not changed during this session and will not change in a Special Session – regardless of length.
“As Chairman Jones and Speaker Cox realize that a clear majority of their caucus opposes Obamacare expansion, we look forward to the House joining us in supporting the Senate’s conservative and fiscally responsible budget – without Medicaid expansion.”