Medicaid Impasse Threatens Arkansas Budget (Andrew DeMillo Analysis)

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 2:03 pm  

(Photo by Stephanie Dunn)

The drama instead has been on the House end, where leaders had initially boasted they had the 75 votes needed.

The standoff is wearing thin on Democrats, who complain that they've conceded to measures aimed at swaying opponents only to see the vote fail back-to-back. They've raised the possibility that the impasse will prevent the Legislature from finalizing the budget for the coming year.

"To say that we're frustrated is an understatement," said House Minority Leader Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville.

Even if supporters win the 75 votes needed to keep the private option alive, this is just a preview of the fights to come every year. The three-fourths vote requirement is giving opponents leverage to push for scaling back the private option, and it also offers holdouts a bargaining chip for other policies.

"I think going forward it's going to be even more difficult," Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, said.

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