Special session carries political implications

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A special session of the Virginia General Assembly continued Tuesday at the State Capitol, where lawmakers are deciding how to spend more than $4 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act.

And it’s all playing out against the backdrop of the November elections.

“What a gift for the Democrats...” said Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Bob Denton, “where they can take credit for funding and providing a lot of money for education, broadband, infrastructure, all the different kinds of things to help the economy.”

Democrats say the priorities outlined by Governor Ralph Northam represent a prudent plan for the federal ARPA funds.

“I think we’ve got some great investments that are going to be made,” said Roanoke Delegate Sam Rasoul.

But Republicans say they and their constituents have been shut out of the process.

“It’s time to end the one-party rule in Richmond. That’s the reason November 2nd is very important,” said Lynchburg Delegate Wendell Walker.

The stakes are high for both parties, but perhaps a bit trickier, Denton said, for Republicans.

“So the script is set in terms of the Democrats,” Denton said. “For the Republicans it’s going to be a little bit difficult. Do they challenge? Do they seem like they’re trying to prevent distribution of money to address some of the economic issues?”

Republican members of the House did offer an alternative Tuesday afternoon, but that substitute and other floor amendments were rejected by the Democratic majority. The House advanced the legislation on a party line vote.

The Senate will consider Republican floor amendments Wednesday.

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