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Report: Republicans bribe Democrat Senator to resign, block Medicaid expansion

In a move that reeks of political games, Republicans have apparently bought off a Democrat lawmaker in order to block Medicaid expansion.

Protesters gather in the office of Florida State Rep. Manny Diaz as they protest his stance against the expansion of healthcare coverage.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The nation's lawmakers are split across political and ideological lines when it comes the idea of expanding Medicaid. Originally a mandate in President Obama's new health care law, the Medicaid expansion was made voluntary after the Supreme Court ruled on the law in 2012. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has been trying to maneuver around Republicans in the state legislature, but the GOP have put up a huge roadblock.

According to a report by the Washington Post on Sunday, Democratic state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) has announced his resignation after state Republicans offered to move his daughter into a judgeship and appoint himself the new deputy director of the state tobacco commission. Puckett's resignation will now give Republicans the advantage in the chamber and put a serious halt on Gov. McAuliffe's attempt of expanding Medicaid.

Upon hearing the news, fellow Democrats in Virginia, including Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), were outraged.

“It’s astounding to me. The House Republican caucus will do anything and everything to prevent low-income Virginians from getting health care. . . . They figure the only way they could win was to give a job to a state senator...At least they can’t offer Terry McAuliffe a job. I hope Terry continues to stand up to these bullies.”

The three sources the Post spoke to revealed the information under a "condition of anonymity," while multiple Republicans denied the allegations. With Puckett's departure, Republicans will now hold a 20-19 advantage in the chamber where they have been strongly opposed to expanding Medicaid to the 400,000 uninsured in the state. When an election is held to fill the vacancy, Republicans are expected to pick up the seat in a district that is deep red in its political alignment.

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