In what has to be the most callous and coldly calculating political maneuvering we have seen since
the days when Democrats controlled the General Assembly then-Governor Terry McAuliffe threatened a state government shutdown until he got Medicaid expansion in 2014, Senate Democrats made good on a threat to shutter a rural hospital in Republican State Senator Bill Stanley’s district — unless he agreed to come across the aisle and vote for Medicaid expansion.
Stanley held firm. Now Democrats are choosing to make rural Virginians pay the price. From Laura Vozzella over at the Washington Post:
“I have never intimated to any of you all, nor have I ever told you, ‘Unless you do something for me, I will kill your bill,’” Sen. William Stanley (R-Franklin) said after the measure failed on a 30-to-10 vote — nine Democrats voted for the bill, along with all 21 Republicans. But it was still votes short of the supermajority needed for emergency legislation. “I’m angry. And I’m ashamed of you.”
Democrats, who need support from two Republicans to get Medicaid expansion out of the closely divided Senate, said their goal was the same as Stanley’s — only on a larger scale.
“I’m angry also,” said Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax). “I’m very angry that I have constituents — yes, even in Northern Virginia, even in wealthy Fairfax County and Arlington County — that have no health care. They’re suffering. A few of them died. … I think we need to get together to figure out a way we can provide health care throughout the commonwealth and not pick one, small community.”
In short, Stanley needed 11 Democratic votes to provide a supermajority, specifically because he was seeking to speed the measure to Governor Northam’s desk so it would take effect immediately.
Stanley’s bill would pass in the Senate on a strict party-line vote, since Republicans control the chamber by a 21-to-19 majority. But he is also seeking an emergency clause to speed the measure to Northam’s desk and allow it take effect immediately rather than on July 1, when most new laws kick in. He needed a supermajority of 32 senators — including Democrats — for that.
The 25-bed hospital serves a large swath of rural Virginia. With its closure, ambulances have had to travel as long as two hours to take patients to other hospitals, Stanley said.
They get to suffer now. All so that Democrats can line up hostages.