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General-AssemblyCOLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (AP) _ Virginia House Republican leaders say the momentum is in their favor in the current battle with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic lawmakers over whether to expand Medicaid eligibility. House Republicans held a rally and a town hall Wednesday in Colonial Heights to reiterate their position that the General Assembly should pass a budget before debating possible Medicaid expansion.

McAuliffe and Democratic lawmakers want a budget that includes accepting federal Medicaid funds in exchange for expanding the state’s eligibility requirements to qualify for publicly financed health insurance to as many as 400,000 additional residents.

House Majority Leader Kirk Cox said delaying passage of a state budget could hurt local governments and state universities.

House Democrats Wednesday accused Republicans of putting their “tea party” ideology above the interests of the commonwealth.