by Brandon Jarvis

Speculation is rampant that Democrats will vote down a large chunk of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s budget amendments. One rumor circulating, at least in Republican circles, is that Democrats plan to veto all 233 amendments on a technicality.

That is not likely to happen, sources tell Virginia Scope.

It’s probable that certain technical amendments will be approved, though it seems that many amendments will be bundled together for a collective vote.

“I think many of the Governor’s unprecedented 233 budget amendments will likely be taken up in a block instead of debated individually if they make it to the Senate. The House gets the first shot at the bill,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, said in a statement.

Given that the budget originated as a House bill, it wouldn’t be logical for the Senate to address the amendments until the delegates have completed their deliberations in their chamber.

Surovell, the most powerful legislator in the Senate, anticipates that numerous bills will undergo severance and could be returned to committee—a rare occurrence.

“It is up to a majority of the General Assembly whether to exercise their constitutional power and send the bill back to committee pursuant to Article V, Section 6 as it did in 1995 when George Allen proposed poorly drafted amendments,” he said.

Surovell also criticized the governor for attempting to legislate through budget amendments.

 “Under the Constitution of Virginia, the Governor is authorized to propose line edits to bills, not rewrite entire budget items or pieces of legislation, which he did on many ‘amendments.’ If the Governor wanted to write bills, he should have run to serve in the General Assembly,” he said.

Governors using budget amendments to legislate is not a new phenomenon — Republicans criticized former Gov. Ralph Northam for similar actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northam also used an amendment to legalize simple possession of marijuana in 2021.

Youngkin could veto the entire budget if he chooses after the veto session.

WUSA asked him about this last week: “I think it’s premature because I think we can come to consensus,” Youngkin said. “That’s why I presented this budget that I believe reaches way across the aisle. It uses an enormous amount of resources that are available to us in order meet the General Assembly’s objectives in a very material way.”

The reconvene session, which traditionally lasts one day, may deviate from its usual routine this year.

Legislators meet in Richmond on Wednesday.

By vascope