State legislators are back in Richmond try to finally pass a budget. But despite the resignation of a Democratic Senator earlier this week, a resolution is still not a sure thing.
A senate panel advanced a state budget on Thursday afternoon, but without the controversial expansion of Medicaid. After months at a standstill, it looked like it could all come to an end. They could pass a budget. But a new twist at the last minute.
Senate Republicans introduced a floor amendment to the budget bill that would prevent the Governor from expanding Medicaid without the general assembly's authorization. All 20 Republican state senators have signed an amendment that would deny state funding to expand coverage under the affordable care act without legislators' approval.
The Senate recessed for nearly two hours as lawmakers considered amendments.
McAuliffe campaigned on the fact that he would not sign a budget that did not provide health insurance and had hinted he might sign Medicaid into effect by executive order.
The budget and Medicaid stalemate had appeared to break Monday when Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett resigned, giving Republicans a one-seat advantage in the senate.
Meanwhile, Virginia Organizing held a vigil at the free speech wall to ask legislators to pass a budget that includes Medicaid. Attendees told stories of friends they have lost because they didn't have access to health care. Dell Erwin said they chose to hold a vigil instead of a rally because of the cause.
"It's more of a mourning, that we have been waiting since January 1st, people without any health insurance, people who are literally dying because they don't have health care. So, we want to call attention to this critical life and death matter."
A 1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall has also caused some delays. Lawmakers are facing 900 million dollars in cuts and a transfer from the state rainy day fund to cover the gap.