The last few days have been “start, stop, start, stop.”
In the background has been two over-arching issues: the first is transportation (which we just voted), the other is Medicaid expansion.
Two weeks ago, the Senate budget took a firm step forward on expanding Medicaid, with simultaneous “market-based” reforms to give the best overall product. The Governor has resisted this approach, instead speaking loudly against the “immoral” Federal deficit and Medicaid expansion.
As we struggled with transportation, it became apparent to Democrats that we could not just allow that issue to move forward without getting a commitment on Medicaid. For the last few days, the House, Senate and Governor have danced a three-way “do-si-do” as they each try to an acceptable resolution.
A few minutes ago, the Senate voted through the transportation conference report — even though we hadn’t yet “resolved” the final Medicaid language. That should be enacted in a few hours.
Why did we agree to that? It arises from a little-known fact, i.e. that an Assembly bill is a physical thing and it’s not released from the custody of the voting body until it is transmitted by “communication” to the other side.
In fact, the transportation bill is sitting on the LG’s desk right now in the Senate chamber. Per our agreement, it will not be transmitted until we have voted on the Medicaid language which is contained in the Budget conference report.
Once that Budget report is agreed, probably tonight, we will be one step closer to bringing Medicaid expansion to Virginia.
(Update at 5:00 pm)
We just passed the final state budget WITH MEDICAID EXPANSION LANGUAGE on a vote of 31-8. House already approved on a similar margin. Looks like we’re headed home very soon.