For the most part lawmakers in Virginia have avoided entertaining the notion of a government shutdown. This despite a prolonged stalemate over the future of Medicaid in the state.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Senate Democrats insist on a budget that includes an expansion of the program, House Republicans refuse to pass a budget that includes more Medicaid.
While both sides have accused the other of pushing the situation to the brink of a shutdown, this weekend Senator Donald McEachin (D) told the Times-Dispatch that Senate Democrats may be willing to hold off past the June 30th deadline.
“If that means we have to go past June 30, then so be it,” McEachin said. “I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if that’s what it takes, so be it.”
House Republicans pounced on McEachin's vieled threat and said it proves that Democrats are holding the entire budget process hostage for the sole purpose of expanding Medicaid.
But while Senate Democrats are talking tough, Monday morning the governor promised that a shutdown won't happen.
"Let me be crystal clear. I'm going to do whatever it takes. Our government will never shut down," he said. "Let me be crystal clear."
Even though McAuliffe attempted to avoid the shutdown talk, he did not back down from his goal of expanding Medicaid.
"I'm optimistic, we have two months," he said.
The governor returned the debate back to the legislature. He said both sides have passed a budget and it is up to them to come up with a plan that they can agree upon. But he warned that the plan better including some form of Medicaid expansion.
"I have been compromising from the beginning on this," McAuliffe said. "It is now time for the House and Senate to do their work and compromise and come up with a bill that I can sign that closes the coverage gap."
But there is no real hope that House Republicans have any desire to pass a budget that includes expansion. Despite that rigid stance, McAuliffe vowed that government will never shut down.
"I have to do what I have to do as governor to make sure that our key resources are taken care of, so let's set that aside," he said.
A difficult prospect given the current environment. But there is still 60 days left to deal and anything can happen.
Here is an extended clip from McAuliffe's remarks: