Lawmakers’ Battle over Medicaid Could Lead to State Shutdown
The democratically controlled Senate and GOP controlled House are locked in debate over expanding Medicaid eligibility.
RICHMOND (WRIC) - In a few days, state lawmakers are set to go home, but there's still one major hang up in the General Assembly. There is no budget -- and there likely won't be one before the session ends.
It's a place lawmakers have found themselves in plenty of times before, fighting over the budget and how money should be spent. But this year , neither side looks like it's going to budge when it comes to expanding Medicaid.
The session ends Saturday, and both sides seem ready to go into overtime and debate in a special session.
"This would not be the first time that we've went past our end date and that's what we have to do that's what we're prepared to do," says Sen. Donald McEachin.
But Republicans are pressuring Democrats and the governor to separate the issues by passing a budget now, and debating Medicaid expansion in a special session.
"Pass the budget and treat that big issue the same way we've treated other big issues in a special session of the General Assembly," says Del. John O'Bannon.
A special session would cost taxpayers, but Republicans say the cost of not passing a budget and leaving localities in the dark would be much greater.
"Compared to what we're spending for our teachers and our sheriff's the cost of a special session would be easily worth it."
And asked if this could lead to a shutdown, some GOP members say if democrats don't budge, it's possible.
The state has never had a shutdown, but in 2006 it came close when a budget was finally passed in late June.