RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) released the following statement Friday following the signing of Executive Order 65:
“Unlike the final budget bill which was passed by an overwhelming majority of both chambers of the legislature and signed by the executive, executive orders do not carry the force of law. The idea that an executive order can supersede the Constitution, decades of Supreme Court precedent, and longstanding legislative practice is nonsensical. This is the culmination of four years of executive overreach, disregard for the law, and contempt for a duly elected branch of government by this governor.
“The Clerk’s actions were consistent with past practice under both Republican and Democrat speakers with both Republican and Democrat governors over the past 21 years. The Supreme Court is abundantly clear about the limits of the governor’s line-item veto authority and there is no doubt Governor McAuliffe exceeded that authority.
“Nonetheless, with or without this veto, the governor lacks the authority to expand Medicaid under Virginia law. In a 2014 analysis, nationally-recognized constitutional law experts Paul Clement and Erin Murphy concluded that, “Whether to extend Medicaid coverage to individuals who do not fit the current statutory requirements established by Virginia law is a quintessential legislative decision. Nothing in Virginia statutory or constitutional law empowers the Governor to make that decision unilaterally, let alone to execute that decision without the requisite appropriation of funds from the General Assembly. [T]here is simply no constitutional path for the Governor to expand Virginia’s Medicaid program without obtaining the requisite authority and appropriation of funds from the General Assembly to do so.” A full copy of that analysis can be found here.
“The General Assembly not only will vigorously defend its prerogatives and closely scrutinize any gubernatorial actions, we will take any and all actions necessary to ensure that the budget law is enforced as passed, signed, and printed by the Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth.”