Did Virginia GOP outmaneuver McAuliffe on Medicaid?


Virginia Republicans may have pulled off a coup de grace by persuading a Democratic state senator to step down, giving them the edge to push through a budget without Medicaid expansion. 

The Washington Post reports Republicans convinced state Sen. Phillip Puckett (D) to step down Monday for a possible job as deputy director of the state Tobacco Commission.


Puckett’s resignation means Republicans will have a 20-19 majority in the Senate, allowing them to push through their own budget without Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) approval because they also control the House of Delegates.

McAuliffe had already injected a provision to expand Medicaid in Virginia into the state budget, threatening a government shutdown at the end of the month. Republicans oppose the expansion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Martha Ketron, Puckett's daughter, who is vying for a judgeship may also have influenced the resignation. 

Ketron’s bid as a full-time judge in the juvenile and domestic relations district court was being delayed because of a tradition against awarding the bench to family members of sitting legislators, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This dramatic turn of events is a blow to McAuliffe, who has been trying to fulfill his campaign promise to expand Medicaid in the state that would give coverage to about 400,000 more Virginians.

Before Republicans possibly outmaneuvered McAuliffe, he was considering doing the same to them. Reports said he was looking for a legal loophole to get Medicaid expansion passed without the Legislature’s approval.