Clinton Allies, McAuliffe, Rally Against Comstock in 10th District

The Clinton wars of the 90s have resurfaced in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District

Barbara Comstock (R), who ruthlessly investigated the Clinton presidency, is running for a seat in the House against Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D). Comstock, along with her colleague Barbara Olsen, was convinced that the Clinton’s were involved in something illicit during their time in the White House. Comstock had a sharp eye for patterns and an almost compulsive work ethic that made her “one of the premier opposition researchers of her generation,” according to Politico.

While Comstock’s allies claim that she has put her penchant for investigation behind her, Clinton’s allies, led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), are gathering funds and support for Foust in an attempt to block Comstock from the seat. They fear that Comstock would re-focus her energies on investigating the White House if she won the seat in the House and if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election.

McAuliffe found himself in Comstock’s crosshairs in February 1997 when she found a memo from McAuliffe that “seemed to suggest that the president have donors over for WH sleepovers,” according to Politico. The governor is currently working on a fundraiser for Foust and has promised to do everything he can to support the Democratic candidate.

McAuliffe Refuses to Appeal OEI Ruling

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced on July 22 that he would not appeal a June 10 ruling that deemed the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) unconstitutional.

The OEI, championed by former governor Bob McDonnell (R) and established in 2013, aimed to take control of public schools that failed to meet statewide benchmarks for four years in a row, according to the Times Dispatch. Six schools were slated to come under the OEI’s jurisdiction, but the districts were hesitant due to the ongoing litigation.

Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Poston deemed the OEI unconstitutional because only the Board of Education – not the General Assembly – has the authority to establish school divisions under the Virginia Constitution. Therefore, the OEI “is not constitutional because it purports to establish a statewide school division and because it purports to create a school division that is not supervised by a school board,” Poston wrote.

Shortly after the ruling, the OEI’s board asked McAuliffe to consider appealing the case to the Virginia Supreme Court. However, McAuliffe has decided to support the court’s decision and remains hopeful that there is a better way to help failing schools.

“[The state constitution] clearly gives the primary responsibility for educating Virginia children to local school boards across the commonwealth, while assigning the task of overseeing those efforts to the Virginia Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction,” McAuliffe said. “Unfortunately, the statute that established the OEI altered these relationships in significant and unconstitutional ways.”

McAuliffe Continues to Push for Medicaid

Photo courtesy of www.tricities.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.tricities.com

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, along with Attorney General Mark Herring and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel, visited the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic in Wise County Fairgrounds to volunteer as needed and talk with patients.

RAM is an annual pop-up clinic that serves around 3,000 people over the course of three days with the help of hundreds of volunteer dentists, doctors and other health-care providers. Virginians come to RAM for free health-care services that are not covered by their insurance and cannot afford on their own, according to The Washington Post.

The governor’s visit came as he is trying to determine how he can use his executive authority to expand Medicaid, since the General Assembly recently passed a state budget without any expansion. In addition to helping around the clinic, he spoke with many patients, emphasizing that he was working very hard to expand Medicaid. He also encouraged them to pressure their state delegates to support expansion, according to the Times Dispatch.

“When you talk to these folks and they’ve been here [waiting] for 30 hours to get care one day a year, that is not how you do health care in this country and it’s clearly not how we should be doing it in the commonwealth of Virginia,” said McAuliffe. “We need preventative care, and we need to get folks care before they have problems. What happens today in Virginia is that many of these folks here, their family doctor is the emergency room, and we are paying many, many times more the cost. If we would do the morally, socially, financially right thing, we would not see this RAM facility the way it is here today.”

Many of the patients at RAM would be covered under the expanded Medicaid. On the first day of the three-day clinic, the line was 1,500 people long by 4 a.m. Organizers had to start turning patients away. Hundreds of people come to the clinic to get all of their teeth pulled, since many of them have never had dental care before. While an expanded Medicaid would not fully resolve this issue since it does not cover routine dental care, it would provide emergency tooth extractions so that patients would not have to wait a year to get a tooth pulled.

McAuliffe to Sign Budget

In a press conference this morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that he will sign the budget proposed by state legislators on Thursday. He will sign the budget but veto the Medicaid amendment, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This announcement marks the end of the on-going struggle between Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. The standstill hinged on McAuliffe’s agenda to expand Medicaid and other healthcare programs and the opposition it faced from Republicans.

The Medicaid amendment would have prohibited McAuliffe from expanding Medicaid or a private option without the approval of both houses of the legislature.

In the press conference, McAuliffe expressed his disdain for the amendment saying “Republicans in the General Assembly had refused to compromise, turned their backs on Virginians who need health care and forfeited millions of dollars.”

Virginia Is One Step Closer To Finalizing a State Budget

A Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly passed a state budget late Thursday night – one that doesn’t include Medicaid, one of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s top priorities.

Medicaid has been a hot topic during the state budget discussions. McAuliffe has sworn previously that he would not sign a budget that didn’t provide health care for 400,000 uninsured Virginians. Other Democrats agree that expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do.

All but three Republicans, on the other hand, are doubtful that the federal government would be able to provide its promised $2 billion every year for the heath care program. That would be a huge cost to absorb, especially since Virginia is expected to have a $1.5 billion shortfall over the two-year budget period “due to a miscalculation of capital gains tax revenue,” according to the Washington Post.

The budget that was passed through the General Assembly will maintain current spending levels to accommodate the shortfall, which means that Medicaid was slashed from the plan.

Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) was particularly hell-bent on making sure that Medicaid could not be expanded for the next two years. He was concerned about vague language in the budget proposal that may have provided a loophole for the expansion, but he ultimately eliminated it from the final budget plan. Democrats and Republicans alike are convinced that Medicaid expansion would not be possible for the next two years under this state budget, according to the Washington Post.

McAuliffe now has seven days to make changes and send it back to the legislature, so it remains to be seen whether or not he will accept the lack of Medicaid expansion. However, the July 1 deadline adds pressure and urgency to the decision.

“When this budget reaches my desk I will evaluate it carefully and take the actions that I deem necessary, but this fight is far from over,” said McAuliffe immediately after the vote according to the Washington Post. “This is the right thing to do for Virginia, and I will not rest until we get it done.”

Republicans Take Control of Senate and State Budget

Virginia Republicans are moving forward with a state budget without a Medicaid expansion plan after Sen. Phillip Puckett (D) resigned on Monday.

The resignation created a power shift in the previously stalled General Assembly, giving the Republicans a 20-to-19 majority, allowing them to unexpectedly call the Senate back into session on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. They hope that the can pass the new budget through the Senate and send it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe that same day for his approval.

McAuliffe, who has placed Medicaid expansion as a top priority, has been exploring the possibility of using his executive powers to circumvent the conservative House and Senate to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. His executive power technically encompasses job creation and expanding Medicaid, as well as expanding abortion rights and gay rights. However, the consequences of acting without support from the General Assembly could be extremely damaging for his public image.

Meanwhile, Republicans say that “they will pass a budget without Medicaid expansion before Puckett’s seat is filled,” according to the Washington Post. Even if the budget was stalled until a special election, Puckett’s district now leans much farther right than it did at the time of his election, so the seat will most likely be filled by a Republican.

Now that the Democrats have lost control of the Senate, their only hope is a separate special session that would address Medicaid expansion, according to the Washington Post.

Gov. McAuliffe Seeks to Review Abortion Laws

When Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) took office in January one of his promises was to do everything he could to amend the rules recently inflicted upon Virginia abortion clinics. On Monday, McAuliffe began his promised action plan to protect abortion access for women.

The regulations that were imposed on abortion clinics last year were responsible for the closing of five state clinics, leaving Virginia with 18 left. These rules require that all state abortion clinics make health and safety renovations, which include adding parking spaces and widening hallways.

“I am concerned that the extreme and punitive regulations adopted last year jeopardize the ability of most women’s health centers to keep their doors open and place in jeopardy the health and reproductive rights of Virginia women,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe has ordered a formal review against the abortion laws to continue his fight for Virginia women.

McAuliffe Announces New Virginia Rail-Safety Task Force

On Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of a rail-safety task force following the derailment of a CSX train carrying crude oil last Wednesday in Lynchburg, Virginia, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“What happened here should give us all pause,” McAuliffe said as a small crew nearby performed some cleanup work.

Officials estimate that 20,000 gallons of oil were lost, either in the fire that followed the derailment or the spill into the river. No one was injured and the accident is still under investigation.

 

McAuliffe Campaign Gives Democrats 2014 Playbook

Outside money makes a difference, as demonstrated by Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s successful bid for the state’s highest office.

McAuliffe’s campaign could provide a template for future Democrats’ campaigns, and serves as a warning to Republicans.

According to the Associated Press, “Nominally independent committees, political action groups, environmentalists and unions poured almost $14 million into McAuliffe’s campaign. He went on to raise and spend almost $33 million to defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli.”

However, money that didn’t go through McAuliffe’s campaign helped him just as much. In the weeks leading up to the election, allies spent an additional $3 million airing television ads in support of McAuliffe.

This year’s elections will be the first in which both parties fully embrace outside groups and their ability to influence voters.

McAuliffe Adds 2 More to Cabinet

Last Thursday, Terry McAuliffe (D) announced he has chosen two government administration veterans to fill positions in his cabinet, according to the Washington Post.

McAuliffe named Nancy Rodrigues, former secretary of the state board of elections, as secretary of administration. He also named Karen Jackson as secretary of technology.

Both women have strong experience serving both Republican and Democrat leaders, furthering McAuliffe’s desire to reach across the aisle to make Virginia work.

“Nancy and Karen, like my other cabinet appointments, are leaders who will put partisan battles aside to do what is best for Virginia’s businesses and economy,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “They have served governors both Democratic and Republican, and have dedicated their careers to making Virginia a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”