The ultrasound bill that has put the national spotlight on Virginia may be losing one of its most important supporters.
Governor Bob McDonnell is backing away from his previous commitment to sign the bill if it makes it to his desk, The Washington Post reports. He is now saying that he will review the bill if the General Assembly passes it.
As it stands now, the controversial bill would require women to have an ultrasound prior to getting an abortion.
The delegates and governor’s staff were scheduled to meet and strike a compromise Tuesday evening, according to The Post. The governors’ staff said it was not initially aware of how invasive the ultrasounds would actually be.
Because most the women would be getting the ultrasounds so early in their pregnancies, a typical ultrasound over the belly will not suffice. Instead, doctors will have to go inside the women with a transvaginal ultrasound.
It is unclear why the governor, who is a staunch pro-lifer, is having a change of heart, but some say it may be because of the political backlash he would receive if he signs it as is.
Yesterday, Paul Goldman, a top Virginia political strategist, predicted that Gov. McDonnell would delay the vote because it would hurt his VP nomination chances. McDonnell’s name has circulated as a top GOP VP nominee, and the governor has been actively campaigning throughout the country on behalf of Mitt Romney.
Goldman wrote on Blue Virginia:
"Here's a prediction you can take to the bank: Governor McDonnell is going to delay the implementation of the ultrasound mandate bill circling like the albatross in Moby Dick. The public doesn't want it, he doesn't need it, and there is this iron law of politics -- you don't get selected VEEP on a winning ticket when Saturday Night Live is doing skits about you.
"His Veepness" didn't get this close to an historic national nomination to let a bunch of folks in the General Assembly - who couldn't get elected statewide with a 10-point head start - ruining all his years of hard work."
"If Speaker Howell can't kill the bill in the House, the Governor is going to figure out a way, either by amendment or another maneuver, to precondition it becoming law, de jure or de facto, on a report from the top medical professions in the state of Virginia..."
"If the Governor refuses to at least seek the advice of the medical community as discussed here, then he will be tagged as anti-women by those in the national media with influence over the key swing group this year, suburban women. You lose them, you lose the election."
The Richmond Times reported that one option being discussed among delegates is to make the ultrasounds optional rather than mandatory.
The bill still needs to go through a final vote in the House.
* Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling’s tiebreaking vote in the evenly split Virginia House has stymied Democrat power this legislative session.
But the Democrats are trying to regain some of that power by brokering a deal with the GOP that would exchange passage of the budget with the restructuring of some Senate committees, The AP reports.
This would give Democrats more power in some key committees. Since Bolling cannot vote on the budget, they are using the prospects of a deadlocked vote as leverage.
Some Republicans have already denounced the Democrats’ efforts and say they are trying to make the budget more appealing to them.
* In Maryland budget news, senators are exploring more cuts in the budget to get rid of some of Gov. O’Malley’s tax increases.
The Senate is putting together a “doomsday” budget plan, which focuses on making steeper cuts in case lawmakers can't agree on the Democratic governor's budget plan,
* The D.C. Council passed a bill that would prohibit cursing in public meetings. Watch NBC’s Tom Sherwood's report here.