Roundup: Reaction to McAuliffe budget, Medicaid vetoes
Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam:
I am fully supportive of the Governor’s actions on the budget, which clearly communicate the priorities of this administration. The most pressing issue is providing affordable, quality healthcare for the more than 400,000 hardworking Virginians who are currently without coverage. I am confident that we will do everything we can to close this coverage gap, which is a moral and financial imperative.
Additionally, the Governor is absolutely right that if Virginia cannot even afford initiatives to reduce homelessness, it is unconscionable that we spend money on renovated offices for members of the General Assembly. Finally, Virginians deserve stronger ethics reform than what emerged from the General Assembly and I look forward to working to improve those policies next year.
After being elected on the promise to expand healthcare to more Virginians, Governor McAuliffe has done the right thing by fighting hard for months to do just that, even in the face of unreasonable opposition in the legislature. The Governor proposed and endorsed several bipartisan compromises that would have closed the coverage gap, giving hundreds of thousands of Virginians access to healthcare, bringing billions of dollars back to Virginia, creating jobs, and producing public safety benefits with expanded access to mental health and addiction treatment. For only political reasons and no substantive policy reasons, a majority of the legislature has rejected every reasonable compromise.
The Governor today announced he is moving ahead to help people and that’s the right thing to do. In the coming weeks, we will see his specific proposals to return federal funds to the Commonwealth to provide critical health care for our people, and we will work closely together to ensure he’s able to do that.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin:
Governor McAuliffe’s announcement means that up to 400,000 Virginians — most from working families — will gain access to quality, affordable health care. As a result, they’ll lead longer, healthier, and more secure lives — to the lasting benefit of all Virginians. We in the Senate look forward to sustaining the governor’s vetoes.
Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax):
Governor McAuliffe has done the right thing, and I thank him for his leadership. Closing the coverage gap will save hundreds of lives, create tens of thousands of jobs, and bring billions of our federal tax dollars back to the Commonwealth.
Republican State Del. Bob Marshall:
Governor Terry McAuliffe has no legal authority to “line-item veto” the condition added by the General Assembly to the Budget preventing the Governor expanding Medicaid without General Assembly approval.
The Virginia Supreme Court defined “item” the 1940 case of Commonwealth vs. Dodson and agreed with the US Supreme Court that: “An item of an appropriation bill obviously means an item which in itself is a specific appropriation of money, not some general provision of law which happens to be put into an appropriation bill. …
Even if the Constitution of Virginia gave Mr. McAuliffe the power to veto “parts” of the Budget, he still could not “line-item veto” the Medicaid prohibition: “ … the constitution of Mississippi gave to the governor power to veto parts of any appropriation bill. “Parts” is a word capable of wider application than “item” or “items”, yet it did not give to the governor power to veto an objectionable provision.(Dodson, citing Bengzon v. Secretary, etc.)
The Governor’s actions and the Attorney general’s co-called advice are contemptuous of the people and Constitution of Virginia, the Constitution of the United States, and the Rule of Law.
The US Supreme Court, cited by the VA Supreme Court in Dodson, stated:
“It follows conclusively that where the veto power is attempted to be exercised to object to a paragraph or portion of a bill other than an item or items, or to language qualifying an appropriation or directing the methods of its uses, he exceeded the constitutional authority vested in him, and his objection to such paragraph, or portion of a bill, or language qualifying an appropriation, or directing the method of its use, becomes non-effective.” [Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice of Philippine Islands – 299 U.S. 410 (1937)]
No doubt Mr. McAuliffe is following the deluded reasoning of Attorney General Mark Herring who is better at giving political advice than legal counsel. McAuliffe and Herring are defying the US Supreme Court and the VA Supreme Court (also see Brault v. Holleman, 1976).
The VA Constitution clearly states, “The Governor shall have the power to veto any particular item or items of an appropriation bill, but the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.”
McAuliffe’s fake “line-item veto” completely reverses the purpose of the amendment. It is out of order and the Speaker should rule it out of order. The Speaker should also open hearings into the unauthorized and unprecedented raw exercise of power by Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Herring to restore constitutional order to Virginia’s government.
Virginia Organizing State Governing Board Chairperson Sandra A. Cook:
We are very excited with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to line-item veto the obstacles in the budget that legislators put in his way regarding Medicaid expansion. His action will help close the coverage gap so that more people can get health insurance in Virginia. And we are absolutely thrilled that the Governor is going to move forward administratively to expand Medicaid!
We will continue to work with the Governor, his staff and others, to find a solution that works for all Virginians, especially the 400,000 Virginians who will be directly affected by Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid expansion is not a partisan issue, but it has been overly politicized. Virginia Organizing calls on everyone to take the politics out of Medicaid expansion and focus on the people that will get health insurance, the jobs that will be created, the hospitals that will be helped, and all Virginians who will benefit from our tax dollars returning to the Commonwealth.