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Monday, June 9, 2014

Democrat Virginia State Senator Resignation Sets Way for GOP to Block State Medicaid Expansion

Photo Credit - Talking Point Memo
Virginia State Senator Phillip P. Puckett resignation leads way
for GOP to block Gov. Terry McAuiffle (D) efforts to
expand Medicaid with the Affordable Care Act

Virginia State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat, is set to “announce his resignation today, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission.”

Currently, the Virginia senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam holding the balance of power.

With Puckett's resignation, Republicans would temporarily gain control of the body until a replacement is elected. Virginia's State Senate chamber make-up when Puckett's leaves would 20 Republicans - 19 Democrats. Prior to the former State Senator resignation the Chamber was split 20-20 between both political parties.

It is alleged, Puckett was offered the seat on this commission in exchange for his decision to resign from the state legislature to stop Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe efforts to expand Medicaid in the state with the Affordable Health Care Act.

Under Virginia’s bribery law, it is a felony for a state lawmaker to do the following:
“Accept or agree to accept from another … any pecuniary benefit offered, conferred or agreed to be conferred as consideration for or to obtain or influence the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or other exercise of discretion as a public servant or party official.”
If it is found Puckett engaged in a 'quid pro quo' deal where a job was offered up as the prize if he agreed to resign, the former State Senator could face prosecution.

As Virginia Republicans gain control of the State Senate, it is alleged the party would use their control over the entire legislature to pass a budget that does not include the Medicaid expansion. Although, Gov. McAuliffe has the Executive Power to veto the budget, Republicans could the Governor's veto as a political move to usher State government shutdown.

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