BREAKING: Speaker Howell Says He Definitely has 51 Votes in House for Transportation Deal

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    I’ve been listening live to the John Fredericks Show (note: see John Fredericks’ view of the transportation deal here – in short, he strongly supports it), where Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R) just stated unequivocally that he has 51 votes in the 100-seat House for the transportation deal announced yesterday. Howell further stated that he’s more than willing to defend himself against right-wing attacks on the deal, which raises taxes significantly, because Richmond is not Washington, DC; here in Virginia, we compromise to get things done according to Howell. Speaking of the right wing, on the John Fredericks Show a few miniutes ago, Howell slammed GOP LG candidate Pete Snyder’s proposal to slash Virginia government spending across the board in order to pay for transportation as “draconian,” “naive,” and “unrealistic.” Finally, Howell noted that Sen. Janet Howell (D), who he emphasized is a liberal, is on board with the transportation compromise, clearly implying passage by the State Senate. Stay tuned for more, but it looks increasingly like this thing’s a done deal.

    P.S. I’m starting to think that this transportation deal, despite its MANY flaws, might be worth it just to see the Republican Party tell the teahadists (e.g., Grover Norquist, Pete Snyder) to go f*** themselves. LOL

    UPDATE 8:42 am: Sen. Ralph Northam says “we’re in good shape” on the transportation plan, “we’ve hit crunch time in Virginia,” “for the economy of Virginia…both sides of the aisle have come together for this…it’s a package that will move Virginia forward…I’m real excited about it…supportive of this package.” Northam says he’s “a little bit disappointed” in the $100 fee on hybrid vehicles, but understands the argument on the other side. Hmmmm. On the regional aspects of the bill, Northam says the “reality” is that Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads need the extra revenue, “projects that need to be done,” this is a “step in the right direction.” Northam says there are some in the Democratic caucus who have concerns, but he believes there will be “bipartisan support” in the Senate for this bill.

    Whoa, on the John Fredericks Show, they just called Aneesh Chopra a “far left-wing candidate.” Seriously?!? Wow. Hahahaha, Sen. Northam just (jokingly?) said he’d be happy to pick up John Fredericks and drive him to the polls to vote in the Democratic Primary on June 11. Having interviewed both Chopra and Northam, also having looked at their records, I’m not seeing any serious policy or ideological differences between them, let alone that one’s the “moderate” candidate and the other’s “far left.” Either I’m totally missing something here (doubtful in this case), or the John Fredericks folks are messing with us, or something else is going on here…

    UPDATE 10:54 am: I’m hearing that Howell might not really have those 51 votes, that he could just be b.s.’ing and/or trying to reduce Democrats’ leverage vis-a-vis Medicaid expansion. Personally, my advice to House Dems is simple – for once you actually may have some leverage, as Howell wants and needs votes from your caucus. Use that leverage to push for Medicaid expansion, and don’t take no for an answer!

    UPDATE 11:01 am: Greater Greater Washington weighs in and is not happy with this plan. Also, see Del. Surovell’s analysis of the plan.