Because Delegate Rob Bell provides such an excellent explanation of why Governor McAuliffe “line item veto,” I decided to post his email too.
No You Can’t, Governor
Today Governor McAuliffe announced he would line item veto budget provisions that prohibit him from expanding Medicaid.
Here’s why the Governor can’t do what he wants.
Last week, the Assembly passed a budget that put a condition on Medicaid spending: “no general or nongeneral funds shall be appropriated or expended” to expand Medicaid under Obamacare until a vote by the General Assembly. This condition is what Governor McAuliffe wants to veto.
However, in the Brault case, the Virginia Supreme Court explained that if a budget includes a spending item that comes with a condition, the condition cannot be separately vetoed. To exercise his line item veto for these conditional budget items, a Governor must veto both the condition and the spending.
This makes sense: for a bill (like the budget) to become law, it is supposed to pass the House and Senate. If a budget item passed the legislature with restrictions, then it didn’t pass on its own – it only passed with the restrictions on it. If the Governor could strip out the conditions with a veto, it would leave behind a spending item that had never in fact passed the House and Senate. To quote the U.S. Supreme Court, such a veto “would not be negation of an item or items of appropriation by veto but, in effect, affirmative legislation by executive edict.”
McAuliffe could veto the condition on Medicaid spending, but only if he also vetoed Medicaid spending itself. This, obviously, is something he would never do, since his goal is to expand the program under Obamacare.
So what’s next? On Monday, the General Assembly will meet and Governor McAuliffe’s veto can be ruled out of order, which means the veto will not be included in the final budget law. Governor McAuliffe could then file action in court to force inclusion of his veto, and we would have to fight him in court. To prevail, Governor McAuliffe would have to prove that he vetoed the condition and any spending it restricts. Given the above court rulings, he should fail, and the budget restrictions on Medicaid should stand.
In short, his veto would be ruled unconstitutional.
Delegate, 58th District