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Virginia Republicans Pull Mark Warner Into Health Insurance Debate

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has so far avoided waiting into Virginia's battle over healthcare expansion.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has so far avoided waiting into Virginia's battle over healthcare expansion.

Leaders in Virginia's Republican-controlled House of Delegates are standing by their plan to oppose extending health insurance to 400,000 low-income residents.

House Republicans sent a letter to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) asking him to support their position on the budget. Last year, Warner condemned national Republicans for forcing a federal government shutdown over a failed effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. Now Del. Tim Hugo (R-Clifton) says Democrats are using similar tactics in the Virginia Medicaid expansion debate.

"Last year, he said you know you've got to keep the government open," Hugo says. "But now, when the shoe is on the other foot, he's saying it's fine to use Obamacare as leverage. And that is so inappropriate."

Through a spokesman, Warner declined to be interviewed for this story. But he sent a letter back to Republicans urging them to work with Democrats to find common ground. State Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) says Republicans are targeting Warner because he's up for reelection this year.

"They are the party of inaction right now, and I'm hard-pressed to see how we are being hypocritical about anything," McEachin says. "There is a budget that we have passed that's waiting on them to act."

If neither side backs down by July 1, Virginia's government could shut down for the time in history.

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