DFL leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate are gearing up for a possible veto override vote to try to save an expiring health care plan for the poor.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the General Assistance Medical Care bill last night, just a few hours after both DFL-controled bodies passed it by wide margins. The Republican governor said the extension was too expensive and didn’t reform GAMC. The Senate would have to act first on an override. DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, told reporters today that there will be an override attempt at some point. But he wants to provide some more time for negotiations with the governor.
“The bill passed with very strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate,” Pogemmiller said. “So in this instance, the governor is the outlier. And unless he comes up with some ideas that are different than what a vast majority of the Legislature, Democrats and Republicans have come up with, it’s not clear what we’re supposed to do here.”
Pogemiller didn’t say when the Senate might vote, but he ruled out Monday. That’s when the Senate and House are expected to take final action on a bonding bill.
In the House, DFLers would need three GOP votes to override a veto. House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, suggested Republicans are already feeling political pressure, as well as threats, to line up in support of the governor. Sertich said he hopes GOP legislators stand up for their convictions and vote the same way that they voted for the bill.
“I guess it comes down to a choice,” Sertich said. It comes down to a choice of who are you standing with? Are you standing with a governor and your state party bosses in St. Paul, or are you standing with the people back home and your hospital back home?
All but nine House Republicans voted for the bill. But caucus leaders are promising a united front to block a veto override. House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said the bill needed more work. He was expecting the legislation to stop in a conference committee, not go immediately to the Senate floor. Zellers said the quick Senate vote was a political shot at the governor.
“The Senate shortcircuited the process,” Zellers said. There should have been a conference committee. It should have been worked on. It shouldn’t have gone straight on through.”