Why are Virginia’s Republican Senators holding our bipartisan budget hostage?
Tommy Norment and GOP Senate hurting their constituents by playing politics and delaying budget negotiations
RICHMOND, VA – Two weeks after Governor Ralph Northam called a special legislative session to pass a budget that provides 400,000 uninsured Virginians access to healthcare, Virginia’s Republican Senate Leader Tommy Norment has announced he will keep the Commonwealth in budget limbo for at least three more weeks. Leader Norment and Senate Republicans refuse to meet until May 14th to discuss the budget despite the Republican-led House of Delegates overwhelmingly passing a budget that included Medicaid Expansion on April 17.
The Republican senate’s refusal to get to work paralyzes local governments who need a finalized state budget so they can set their own local budget, pay teachers and police officers, and make a multitude of spending decisions that affect Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Simply put, Tommy Norment and his caucus are holding our budget hostage in an extreme effort to deny hundreds of thousands of Virginians health care.
The Republican senate’s refusal to take up bills the House passed more than a week ago has drawn wide scorn, including from leaders in his own party. Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox denounced Norment’s delay, “I’m disappointed it’s taking this long to do something that could have been done nearly a month earlier….Local governments, school boards, and national bond rating agencies are expecting us to act, and there’s no reason for delay.” The budget passed the GOP-controlled House with 67 votes, and has been endorsed by Republicans from all across Virginia – including former Anti-Medicaid Expansion champion, Senator Jeff McWaters. But because of Tommy Norment’s political games and aversion to increasing access to healthcare, Virginians must anxiously wait for months for their state government to pass a buget.
Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker called on Leader Norment and the Republican senate to get to work.
“I guess Tommy Norment and his Republican senate colleagues have a Spring Break get-away to Cancun planned over the next 3 weeks because I can’t see any other reason they are refusing to meet and pass a budget,” Swecker said. “The budget supported by Governor Northam and a supermajority of the Republican-led House of Delegates increases access to healthcare for 400,000 Virginians while saving the Commonwealth billions. Get to work, Tommy: call for budget meetings now. You are hurting Virginians by playing this pettiest form of politics.”