Virginia Government Rolls Full Steam Toward Shutdown Over Obamacare


We might not have seen the last shutdown over Obamacare: The Virginia legislature continued its stalemate over the health care reform law Wednesday, creeping closer toward shuttering this summer if the two sides can’t agree.

As TPM has previously reported, Virginia is one place where the state government might shut down over Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the evenly-split Senate want it (albeit in a privatized form). The Republican-led House has refused to budge.

The regular session ended in March without the legislature passing a budget because the two chambers couldn’t agree on Medicaid expansion. They were reconvening Wednesday for an annual “veto session,” per the Washington Post, but votes on the issue were not expected. That means a shutdown is still on the way unless legislators move to avert it in the next two months.

Medicaid expansion isn’t on the agenda for the House or the Senate on Wednesday — so lawmakers would have to suspend the rules to take a vote on it or the budget. Nobody seems to think that will happen.

“I don’t expect that there’s going to be any substantial movement until the latter part of May, early part of June,” House Minority Leader David Toscano (D) told the Post.

The two sides aren’t even talking in conference, the Post noted, because they refuse to vote on the each other’s budget. So now those at the Virginia Capitol are left speculating about what legal means McAuliffe might have to keep core functions of the state government operating if a budget isn’t passed by July 1 — much like President Barack Obama was able to keep some parts of the federal government running during last fall’s shutdown.

“I imagine that those discussions are going on within the executive branch, because they have a responsibility to make sure that public safety and core services are maintained in the event there is no budget,” Toscano told the Post. McAuliffe’s office declined to comment to the newspaper.

Neither side seems interested in compromising, instead resorting to parliamentarian tactics to maintain the procedural upper hand over the last month.

Medicaid expansion would cover up to 400,000 low-income Virginians.