The General Assembly adopted a state budget Thursday night after hours of internal GOP disputes and the addition of an amendment preventing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe from expanding Medicaid without legislative approval.
The Senate voted 21-18 to pass the bill. The House passed the amended budget with a 69-31 vote.
Prior to the Senate floor session, Republican senator Dick Black proposed an amendment that would prevent McAuliffe from expanding Medicaid without General Assembly approval, delaying the scheduled start of the floor session by more than four hours.
“At no point did the budget include language that would have allowed the Governor to expand Medicaid without the approval of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission,” Speaker of the House William Howell said in a statement. “However, because reports have suggested that Governor McAuliffe may try to do so, the General Assembly added an additional, clarifying section that unequivocally prohibits the expansion of Medicaid without the approval of the legislature.”
“This evening’s actions demonstrated how deeply committed Republicans in the General Assembly are to denying 400,000 Virginians access to life-saving health care,” McAuliffe said in a statement issued Friday morning. “...Virginians deserve better than representatives who put narrow ideology ahead of what is best for our families, economy and budget.”
Debates over Medicaid expansion prevented the General Assembly from passing a budget at the end of the session that ended in March. Legislators could either extend the current legislative session beyond June 30 to address Medicaid or call a special session after the end of the fiscal year.
“When this budget reaches my desk I will evaluate it carefully and take the actions that I deem necessary, but this fight is far from over,” McAuliffe said. “This is the right thing to do for Virginia, and I will not rest until we get it done.”