House Speaker William J. Howell and other Republican leaders held a conference call Wednesday with reporters to explain their legal arguments against such a potential move by the governor.
Republicans commissioned an analysis of state law by former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement. Clement says Virginia's Constitution makes clear that the governor does not have the unilateral authority to expand Medicaid.
McAuliffe said last week he plans to expand publicly financed health care for the poor and wants to "bring back" federal Medicaid funds to provide that care. He's not yet detailed how he plans to do so without legislative approval.