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Connolly Blasts McDonnell

Anita Kumar

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) lambastes Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell this week over the state's refusal to accept $125 million in federal stimulus money for unemployed Virginians.

"I would challenge you to explain to a single Virginia family why their economic security is less important than your party's political ambitions, and that Virginians facing the devastation of unemployment and the concomitant consequences of foreclosure, loss of healthcare, and creditworthiness for the partisan gain of the Republican Party and its gubematorial aspirants," Connolly wrote in a letter to McDonnell.

The Republican-led House of Delegates voted 53 to 46, largely along party lines, last month to reject the funds. McDonnell supported that decision.

Democrats have been pounding the Republicans ever since -- convinced that voters will see the rejection of the federal dollars as a betrayal of struggling workers.

"In my fourteen years of public service I have never witnessed a partisan decision of such ill consequence for Virginians,'' Connolly wrote.

But Republicans have not backed down. They say accepting the money would have meant agreeing to adjust Virginia's insurance program and expand government.

McDonnell sent a letter to Virginia's congressional delegation last month, urging them to change a requirement that would force the state to continue paying for the expansion in unemployment benefits even after the stimulus runs out. He called the requirement as "an unfortunate and burdensome mandate" that trampled the "cherished principles of federalism crafted by Virginia's founders."

But Connolly writes in his letter that McDonnell knows that the state would not be forced to extend the unemployment benefits after the federal is exhausted.

"It is remarkable that you would find $125 million to be a reasonable price for the political harvest that you are attempting to reap by rejecting unemployment insurance and then attempting to blame someone else for losing it,'' he wrote. "Although you no longer serve in state government, perhaps you have sufficient standing among your Republican colleagues in the House of Delegates to suggest participating in a special session to adopt the statute necessary to accept federal unemployment insurance funding."

By Anita Kumar  |  May 22, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009 , Gerald E. Connolly , Robert F. McDonnell  
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