Obenshain Denounces McAuliffe’s Washington-Style Unilateral Executive Action

By State Sen. Mark Obenshain, 26th-Senate

HARRISONBURG—Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) denounced Governor McAuliffe’s announced intention to govern independently of the General Assembly, in contravention of the fundamental principle of the separation of power.

“The Governor is free to negotiate with the General Assembly, to disagree with the General Assembly, even to lambaste the General Assembly,” said Obenshain. “What he is not free to do is ignore the General Assembly. Under our constitution, neither the Governor nor the General Assembly has the authority to act unilaterally—yet today, that’s exactly what Governor McAuliffe said he plans to do.”

In a press conference announcing his intended actions on the budget, the Governor announced his plans to use his veto pen to abolish the bipartisan Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) and short-circuit the methodological reforms it is overseeing. He also announced that he will move forward with Medicaid Expansion in Virginia absent any legislative authorization whatsoever.

“The legislature created MIRC, on a bipartisan basis, to facilitate the reform and modernization of Medicaid, and to assess whether the legislature’s conditions for Medicaid Expansion had been met. But instead of letting MIRC do its job, Governor McAuliffe has decided to abolish it—leaving vital reforms incomplete,” Obenshain added.

In his wide-ranging budget press conference, McAuliffe also announced his plan to veto appropriations for the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, despite having already signed the legislation creating the council. “Already under scrutiny over allegations of selling access through his PAC, the Governor has decided to stop ethics reform in its tracks through a back door budget action—even after signing the bills creating the new commission,” observed Obenshain.

Added Obenshain, “Despite near-unanimous agreement on the need for more judges, McAuliffe even announced a veto of $19 million in funding for new judges merely because he wants the authority to select them himself—despite that being the General Assembly’s prerogative. Our Governor would rather see no new judges than let the General Assembly exercise its constitutional authority to elect them.”

“Today’s press conference was an outrageous show of executive arrogance,” said Obenshain. “Maybe that sort of thing works in Washington, but here in Virginia, we take separation of power seriously. The Virginia General Assembly is not an advisory commission. I know that we’re now on a tight schedule due to the fact that Senate Democrats refused to permit any action on the budget for well over two months, but perhaps the Governor should find some time to read the state constitution. He might learn something.”

Obenshain concluded, “At his press conference, McAuliffe said, ‘I’ve always said that if the federal government changes in any manner, we change, plain and simple.’ And that’s exactly what he’s done—bringing the worst of Washington-style politics to Virginia.”

Mark Obenshain represents the 26th District in the Senate of Virginia. He was the Republican nominee for Attorney General in 2013.

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