RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed budget amendments met a mixed fate Friday, some clearing the General Assembly and others, including his push for a gas-tax holiday, voted down on a bipartisan basis. Legislators sent the Republican governor a compromise spending plan on June 1, and he returned it earlier this week requesting several dozen amendments. They spent Friday churning through them and also elected two Supreme Court justices.
The governor did not seek changes to many budget provisions that would offer tax relief to families and working people, including one-time rebates. But he did push anew for a three-month suspension of the gas tax, which Democrats and one Republican senator have consistently opposed. “Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians — for a third time,” Youngkin tweeted after the amendment failed.
Youngkin’s other amendments involved an array of spending and policy areas, including abortion and criminal law. House Democrats repeatedly accused him of overreaching. Stop trying to legislate failed policy in the budget,” House Minority Leader Don Scott said.
On one amendment, even Republicans who control the House bucked the governor. A Republican made the motion to shelve a proposal to create a new felony penalty for certain actions during demonstrations aimed at judges or other officers of a court. Youngkin advanced the proposal after recent protests outside the northern Virginia homes of some U.S. Supreme Court justices.
The chamber also shelved a companion amendment for funding to the Department of Corrections for a potential increase in prison bed space associated with creating a new felony.
House Speaker Todd Gilbert said his caucus voted against the protest amendment because “it was a unique procedural move that we thought required additional vetting.”
The House agreed to the governor’s other proposals, which then crossed over to face more opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
On a party-line vote, the Senate defeated an amendment to further limit when public funds can be used for abortion services. Currently, Virginia denies state funding to women who are eligible for Medicaid and seek abortions, except when the mother’s life is at risk and in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal diagnoses. The amendment would have eliminated the exception for incapacitating fetal diagnoses.
Senate Democrats also blocked an amendment to provide the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University $1.6 million to research ways “to increase opportunities for K-12 students.” The former governor, a Democrat, has backed Youngkin’s education initiatives.
Also, Senate Democrats voted down an amendment from Youngkin that would have allocated $229,570 in each year to add two support positions to the office of Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, who presides over the chamber. Republicans defended the spending.